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‘iCarly’ was the original influencer. Here’s what to know about the nostalgic revival

A woman sits in front of a large desktop computer, smiling.
Miranda Cosgrove in “iCarly.”
(Lisa Rose / Paramount+ / Nickelodeon)

Wake up the members of my nation, because the “iCarly” revival is here. And if you’re so young (or so old) that you’re asking, “What’s an iCarly?” leave it to us to explain what the fuss is about.

Created by Dan Schneider, the hit Nickelodeon series, which premiered in 2007, returns Thursday on Paramount+ nearly a decade after the original series finale. Miranda Cosgrove reprises her role as webcast influencer Carly Shay — and this time, she’ll be navigating life as an adult, with former cast members Jerry Trainor and Nathan Kress along for the ride.

For the record:

5:10 p.m. June 18, 2021An earlier version of this story misquoted actor Jennette McCurdy as saying creator Dan Schneider created a “hellish” working environment on “iCarly.” On the podcast, McCurdy described her acting career as hellish, but she did not attribute it to Schneider.

A girl jumps into the air in her brightly colored bedroom
Cosgrove in the original “iCarly,” which ended in 2012.
(Lisa Rose / Nickelodeon)

What was the original “iCarly” about?

The sitcom began with Carly, then an eighth-grader, living in a Seattle apartment with her 26-year-old law school dropout turned artist brother, Spencer (Trainor), who was her legal guardian while their father was in the Air Force. After a stint in detention, where Carly was forced to watch talent show auditions, she launched a viral weekly web show called “iCarly” with her gritty but lovable best friend, Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy), and geeky, obsessed neighbor, Freddie Benson (Kress).

The show followed Shay and her friends on their ascent to the status of influencers, balancing adolescence with the ups and downs of becoming an online sensation. Welcoming teen guest stars such as One Direction and American Idol runner-up David Archuleta, the Emmy-nominated show ran for six seasons before its final curtain call in 2012.

Four people stand on a TV show set, one of them holding a script.
Guest star David Archuleta, left, with “iCarly” cast members Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy and director Dan Schneider.
(Lisa Rose / Nickelodeon)
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What has the cast been up to since “iCarly” ended?

Cosgrove’s breakthrough Nickelodeon role was as the mischievous, brilliant little sister, Megan, on “Drake & Josh,” to whom she pays homage in the reboot. McCurdy’s character, Sam, starred in Nickelodeon spinoff “Sam & Cat” with Ariana Grande — who played scatterbrained redhead Cat Valentine in the network’s series “Victorious” — but it lasted for only one year.

Following “iCarly,” the cast took different paths. Cosgrove, who pursued a psychology degree at USC, voiced the role of Margo in the “Despicable Me” franchise. Kress started a podcast called “RadioActive Dads,” exploring parenting and his budding family. Nickelodeon veteran Trainor continued to work with the network on shows such as “Wendell and Vinnie” and “T.U.F.F. Puppy.”

McCurdy, whose character was beloved for her butter socks, sarcastic one-liners, and blatant disrespect for authority, will not be returning to the new series. In a February 2021 episode of her podcast “Fish Out of Water,” McCurdy said that she quit acting a few years ago because it was not initially her idea to become an actress. On her other podcast, “Empty Inside,” McCurdy has described her acting career as “hellish,” and referred to both the pressures of the business in general and “the particular toxicity of the environments that I was in.”

Three teens stand in front of lockers.
Nathan Kress, left, Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy take a short break on the set of “iCarly” in June 2012.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

At age 6 or 7, McCurdy’s mother introduced her to acting, and she eventually became the primary financial support for her family. Following her mother’s death, McCurdy changed her trajectory and grew to resent her career, feeling ashamed of previous roles.

Another key figure who’s not part of the new project, this one behind the scenes, is original showrunner Schneider. Although responsible for grooming a generation of Nickelodeon talent in TV shows and movies — including Amanda Bynes in “All That,” Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell in “Good Burger” and Jamie Lynn Spears in “Zoey 101" — he’s since parted ways with Nickelodeon.

What’s different about the revival?

In the 13-episode Paramount+ series, helmed by Jay Kogen (“The Simpsons”) and Ali Schouten (“Champions”), 26-year-old Carly, a successful college graduate, lives with her best friend, Harper (Laci Mosley). Big brother Spencer has become wealthy through accidental art-world fame, while Freddie is twice-divorced and forced to move back in across the hall with his mother after his tech startup fails. (He even has a stepdaughter, Millicent, played by Jaidyn Triplett.) Nostalgia hits hard, though, and in the premiere episode Carly — who’s had stints in TV and radio since the end of the original series — decides to revive the web show for her roaring 20s.

Three friends on a couch looking at something on a phone.
Pictured: Laci Mosley as Harper, Miranda Cosgrove as Carly and Nathan Kress as Freddie of the Paramount+ series iCARLY. Photo Cr: Lisa Rose/Paramount+/Nickelodeon
(Lisa Rose/Lisa Rose/Paramount+/Nickelodeon)

One other difference to expect? Since 10 years have elapsed, the revival series will include “sexual situations” and is “not specifically for kids,” Trainor, 44, and Kress, 28, revealed in an interview with Page Six.

If you want to reminisce, the original series is on Paramount+ in its entirety. (You can also check out Seasons 1 and 2 on Netflix.) The first three episodes of the 2021 edition of “iCarly” premiere Thursday on Paramount+, with the remaining episodes airing on the platform weekly. Watch the trailer here.


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