Women have been dominating the Internet for a long time since online content creation first became a thing in the mid-2000’s. That is especially true for the past few years, with content creators like Jenna Marbles, Lindsey Stirling, and Pokimane (to name a few) shaping much of the Internet’s culture as we know it today while also paving the way for even more women to express their creativity online. But before all of these wonderful ladies made their mark on the Internet, there was Carly Shay.
Played by Miranda Cosgrove, Carly Shay was the star of the Nickelodeon teen sitcom iCarly, which debuted in 2007. This show focused on Carly starting up her own Internet show with her friends Sam and Freddie after a clip of her and Sam went viral online. The goal of their show was to be as mindless as possible; sometimes Carly and Sam would hear scary ghost stories from a pink bra named George, other times Carly would invite her brother Spencer (played by the incredibly talented Jerry Trainor) to showcase one of his eccentric sculptures or pretend to be a baby with Baby Spencer. They even had an award show at one point where they gave awards to fans for submitting videos of their random talents. It was off-the-wall bonkers, and their audience was all for it.
I was extremely invested in iCarly when it first came on the air, but I didn’t stick around long enough to see its conclusion in 2012. At this point many of the live-action teen shows on Nickelodeon had already run their course and I kinda fell off the train halfway through. That still left me surprised to hear that iCarly would be making a comeback almost a decade after the series finale. From everything that I’ve seen so far, I do not think there could be a more perfect reboot for a beloved teen sitcom.
The 2021 iCarly reboot focuses on Carly Shay returning to her hometown of Seattle as a semi-recent college graduate wanting to get back into self-employed online content creation. She proposes to her boyfriend Beau about starting up a new channel, but he dumps her and decides to start a new show with his new girlfriend. This fuels Carly to restart her long-neglected web series back up.
This is a different iCarly from what fans got used to seeing; the characters are older than they were and are thus more mature and grounded. Spencer became rich and helped fund Freddie’s jumpstart, who by the way has been through TWO failed marriages AND shares joint custody of his step-daughter with his ex-wife. Carly, on the other hand, is still fumbling around her love life, failing to find a single guy who wants to commit to a serious relationship with her.
Perhaps the biggest standout factor this reboot has from its original counterpart is how much more connected it is to the real world today. The original iCarly was extremely zany – not just the web show but the entire sitcom in general. Many of the show’s jokes were immature, but not in a negative way, and the situations the characters found themselves in seemed to be made up of stuff found in young teens’ fantasies. This reboot finds the characters in more realistic situations, and the show’s framework is made up of themes that play a huge part of young adults’ worlds today. Sexuality and the complexities of modern dating are a key focus in the reboot; for example, Carly’s roommate Harper, a new character played by Laci Mosley, is implied to be pansexual, which may be surprising considering Nickelodeon’s older shows wouldn’t dare touch upon LGBT+ themes. Online bullying and the negative impact it can have on popular influencers especially is also highlighted for a brief moment. There were moments like this in the original series too, but this shows that negativity on the Internet can be just as mentally taxing on a young adult as it is for a teen.
The reboot’s jokes and comedical bits are what surprised me the most, as they are connected to real life also. The show takes a small jab at ASMR influencers and the sudden popularity of people becoming memes. I kid you not, the showrunners even had the sheer bravery to go as far as highlighting fursonas as a sexual kink. This was a kids program at one point in case people reading this forgot. At this point it should be obvious that the show in general is more mature than its predecessor; there are even a few PG-13 curse words thrown around occasionally.
Seeing iCarly the way it is now is a bit staggering compared to what it used to be, but it actually works in the show’s favor. These characters aren’t kids anymore, so obviously it isn’t as quirky as what it used to be. That doesn’t mean the show loses it’s original charm at all. The reboot has made a few callbacks to the original series, such as the moving parts sculpture Spencer made when he tried to break a world record. Other side characters like Nora Dershlit and Nevel Papperman also make special returns, and by the looks of things their nuances haven’t gone away either. There’s even a cheeky reference to a recently popular meme of Miranda Cosgrove’s character Megan from Drake and Josh in one episode.
There has been some discussion on the Internet as to whether or not rebooting iCarly was a smart move by Nickelodeon or if it was just trying to cash in on nostalgia. But to be honest, it works extremely well. The iCarly reboot is self aware in that its characters are older and are not the same as they were over a decade ago, but at the same time it doesn’t entirely get rid of the tongue-and-cheek humor that made the original so beloved. It’s a show that aged along with its fans who were invested in it. As of right now, it’s the best revival that Nickelodeon, or for that matter any kid-friendly network, has ever done because it’s respectful to its audience. There are only three episodes released at the time of this article, with more being released weekly, and at this rate it could very well be one of the best shows released in 2021.
The iCarly reboot is available to stream exclusively on Paramount+.