iRevisited iCarly As an Adult Before the Revival and Had the Best Time

iCarly was more than just a kids' show, as I only realized when I went back and watched it as an adult. The revival premieres Thursday, June 17 on Paramount+.

By Lauren Piester Jun 17, 2021 12:56 AMTags
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When I tell people I loved iCarly, I tend to attach an explainer. 

"I only watched it because I have two younger siblings who were watching it." "It was just on for some reason!" "I watched all TV, including TV for children." "I know it's silly, but I thought Spencer was cute!" 

I was 16 when iCarly premiered, which is, when I think about it now, the age of a child and a totally reasonable age to be watching iCarly. But as most 16-year-olds do, I thought I was too cool for anything that might be perceived to be for children. I was overly conscious of doing anything that might take away from what I thought was my hard-earned maturity. I could drive a car, so I could not be watching brightly colored Nickelodeon comedies, no matter how much I loved them. 

Now, it's 14 years later, and those feelings remain, even as I eagerly await the revival. So, partly in an effort to push past my own weird lingering insecurities about my age and partly just to find out how badly the show itself aged, I decided to rewatch the series ahead of its return. I expected more of that same embarrassment, a lot of cringing and a whole lot of "yikes" at how very late 2000s/early 2010s the show was. But instead, I found joy. 

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The show was, and somehow still is, pretty funny. It's absolutely stupid and plays into the worst well-known tropes of kids shows, with bright colors, loud screaming and outfits that make absolutely no sense, but it also seems totally self aware. It's leaning into the tropes and the madness, and constantly reminding you that it knows what it's doing. It even knows that iCarly, the live web show that streams on icarly.com, is completely pointless and maybe not even good, despite its million or so viewers. And it doesn't care. 

What's most impressive is that while iCarly was created during a very specific internet era (Fred, the fast-talking six-year-old YouTuber played by Lucas Cruikshank, was once a guest star) more than a decade ago, it still feels like it understands today's internet in a way nobody could have predicted. They dunk on sponsorships and explore the power of influencing, and half their gags are ready-made for TikTok. If the spaghetti taco isn't the next food to sweep that app, someone on the iCarly marketing team did something wrong. 

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It also helps that the cast is full of really skilled comedic actors—Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy in particular. Cosgrove plays Carly with a little casual subtlety, but she's an admirable combo of femininity, self-assuredness, humor and a little bit of crushing anxiety all at the same time. McCurdy's timing is impeccable, and she sells the violent, mean, meat-loving Sam in a way that makes her lovable, rather than insane and terrifying. It makes McCurdy's absence from the revival and her embarrassment over her career all the sadder, even if it's easy to respect her decision to retire from child acting. 

I simply had a really good time binging and throwing the remnants of my teenage insecurities out the window, letting the pretty nonsense consume me as I considered buying a tiny vest to wear over a t-shirt that says "Parole Baby," for some reason.

All that said, the show is not without its problems, ones that the revival will hopefully avoid. Fat jokes and cultural appropriation can be found pretty frequently, and there's some incredibly weird stuff going on with the fact that every kid only has one parent in their lives. There are also many moments that just feel sort of icky in hindsight, especially when it comes to sexuality and consent. There are way too many plotlines involving people trying to kiss Carly without permission, and her rejection even served as the villain origin story for the evil Nevel Papperman (Reed Alexander), who's also back for the revival.

The new version is just as brightly colored as the old version, but things have changed. Jerry Trainor told Page Six that the characters get into "sexual situations" that are, thankfully, "not going to be super-raw." Carly's got lots of dating to do, Freddie's divorced, and everybody's drinking beer and swearing, but the dumb stuff, the joyful stuff, all still appears to be present. I'm 30 years old now, and I couldn't be more excited. 

iCarly premieres Thursday on Paramount+. 

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