The Nickelodeon series iCarly was a staple of our generation’s childhood. A few weeks ago, we finally got the chance to rewatch the antics of Carly, Sam and Freddy as Netflix released the first two seasons on its platform. And though this seemed like a great addition, iCarly is much more than just spaghetti tacos and random dancing.
The series joined other Nickelodeon staples on the streaming service, including Victorious and Sam & Cat. All three of these shows were produced by Dan Schneider, a man who has had a massive impact on our generation’s upbringing and sense of humor. He discovered some of the biggest child stars of our time, including Jamie Lynn Spears, Kenan Thompson, Victoria Justice and, of course, Ariana Grande. Despite this, Nickelodeon severed ties with him back in 2018 “under a cloud of suspicion over the treatment of some younger stars of his shows.”
According to Deadline, Schneider had a well-documented poor temper with his typically young, female stars. Twitter accounts exist to expose his alleged wrongdoings. Schneider’s own account included since-deleted “jokes” about young female stars’ feet. Many of his series included “jokes” about their feet as well. Rewatching his shows as an adult feels very uncomfortable. They carry some unnecessary sexualization and inappropriate innuendos.
SAM & CAT TOMORROW! Write on the bottom of ur foot, take a pic and use #SAMandCATSaturday we’ll RT and follow until our fingers get sore!
— Sam and Cat (@SamAndCat) September 13, 2013
Schneider’s strange foot obsession and the discomfort some women vocalized is enough to question whether we should still be supporting his work.
Young people have not hesitated to cancel powerful men in the entertainment industry for sexual misconduct, ranging in severity from Chris D’Elia to R. Kelly and Kevin Spacey. Gen Zers may know D’Elia from You and R. Kelly for “Ignition,” but neither of them have been very significant in their upbringing. Young people haven’t yet had to call someone as deeply important to them as Schneider to their court of public opinion.
It is difficult to understand how older generations can continue supporting their cultural icons despite inappropriate behavior. That is one of the main criticisms of cancel culture — even if someone is “canceled,” there are rarely any real consequences to their actions.
Comedian Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct by five women at about the time of the height of the #MeToo movement in the entertainment industry. Upcoming performances and the premiere of his new film were canceled, but he sold out shows in 2020 and he even jokes about the allegations in a new special.
Allegations against legendary filmmaker Woody Allen surfaced at a similar time. A new HBO docu-series is exploring allegations made by his former partner, Mia Farrow, alleging that he sexually abused their adopted daughter when she was seven years old. Of course, Allen is also known for dating Farrow’s adopted daughter when she was 21; they married when she was 27. Despite these disturbing actions, he still seems untouchable. Other greats like Spike Lee have defended him and fans continue to see him as one of Hollywood’s greatest.
Both of these instances can be sources of outrage, especially for those who were not greatly impacted by their work. We have no problem with saying goodbye to movies like Manhattan and Annie Hall because they are older than us. Yet, the children that grew up on Nickelodeon are now in the same situation as Louis C.K. and Woody Allen fans. We want to hold on to iCarly, too.
If we won’t watch Quentin Tarantino movies because of his sexual portrayals of grown women, then there is no reason to watch Dan Schneider’s shows given his worrisome behavior with underage actors. For the sake of this generation’s child stars, stop watching Nickelodeon shows on Netflix.
Young people chose to respect and uplift the voices of brave women who came forward during the #MeToo movement to condemn older, powerful men. Yet, they have ignored the hints of Schneider’s inappropriate behavior from people in their generation.
iCarly stars Miranda Cosgrove, Nathan Kress and Jerry Trainor are returning for an adult reboot of the series for Paramount+. Jennette McCurdy, the actress who played Sam, will not be participating.
McCurdy’s website bio at one point said, “I started out as a child actor…that certainly lent some psychological trauma (sound guys can be especially creepy!)”
She wrote in 2019 that her “resentment” toward her career grew into an eating disorder. In 2020, she also posted a TikTok about not knowing the life of a normal, healthy kid. While none of these statements ever directly connected Schneider to her struggles, one Vine did. She addressed him and said, “Look what you’ve done to me.” She appeared to be mimicking Amanda Bynes, another star from Schneider’s shows All That and The Amanda Show.
Before McCurdy and Cosgrove, Bynes was the channel’s defining star of the earlier decade. Years after working with Schneider, she acted erratically on social media, got multiple DUIs and went in and out of rehab. In 2014, she announced that she had been diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and manic depression. Now, Bynes is 34 and under her parents’ conservatorship. Some people point to her close relationship with Schneider as one of the reasons for her mental break.
There is no #FreeAmanda to help raise awareness and rid Bynes of her conservatorship. Instead, her former fans are supporting Schneider’s work and helping iCarly stay in Netflix’s Top 10. Young people have helped empower women and hold older men accountable for their actions when they seemed untouchable. The least we can do now for the actors that helped define our generation is to stop blatantly supporting Dan Schneider.