The late 2000s and early 2010s was an interesting time for Nickelodeon. It was when iCarly was at its peak — the show holds four spots out of the top 10 for Nickelodeon’s most watched premieres.
iCarly centers around Miranda Cosgrove as titular Carly Shay and Jennette McCurdy as Carly’s best friend Sam Puckett. The two create a web show, filmed by Freddie Benson, played by Nathan Kress. It was basically vlogging before vlogging was vlogging.
iCarly was quality entertainment for children like me. I found it easy to relate to Sam because we both loved food and had rebellious tendencies.
But what I didn’t know was how torturous the show was for McCurdy behind the scenes.
McCurdy revealed horrific details about a man whom she refers to as “The Creator” in her memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died, published Aug. 9.
The Creator insisted she get photographed in a bikini on set. The Creator pressured her to drink alcohol when she was underage. The Creator gave a shoulder massage to McCurdy without her consent.
“The Creator sits in a small cave-like room off to the side of the soundstage, surrounded by piles of cold cuts, his favorite snack, and Kids’ Choice Awards, his most cherished life accomplishment,” she wrote.
The Creator hinted at giving McCurdy her own show titled Just Puckett after iCarly wrapped up. Instead, she wound up with Sam & Cat, a spinoff starring her character and Ariana Grande’s character from Victorious, a Nickelodeon show about a performing arts high school.
McCurdy and Grande faced vastly different treatment from Nickelodeon, according to the book. McCurdy had to turn down movie roles because the network wouldn’t write her character out of iCarly episodes. Meanwhile, Grande constantly missed rehearsals and filming for her exponentially growing music career.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, McCurdy revealed, was when Grande came to set and revealed she’d spent “the previous evening playing charades at Tom Hanks’ house.” McCurdy had had enough of being a “good sport.”
“That was the moment I broke,” McCurdy wrote. “I couldn’t take it anymore.”
With such disparities between how Nickelodeon treated the two costars, it makes sense that McCurdy resented how Grande was treated. It takes a lot to admit jealousy, especially as a teen being examined under the world’s microscopic eye, but McCurdy does just that in her memoir.
After Sam & Cat ended, Nickelodeon offered McCurdy $300,000 if she would never speak publicly about her experiences at the network, specifically about The Creator, she wrote. She turned it down: “This feels to me like hush money.”
Physical copies of I’m Glad My Mom Died sold out on Amazon, Target, Walmart and Barnes & Noble, Rolling Stone reported. It’s soared to the No. 4 position on Amazon’s bestseller charts and No. 2 in memoirs.
One of the things that stands out from reading about McCurdy’s upbringing is the cruel parallels between McCurdy’s life and her character’s. Sam’s mother is a questionable character who is largely portrayed in a negative light. McCurdy portrays her own mother as abusive and controlling.
Another takeaway is just how messed up it is that McCurdy played a food-obsessed character even as she suffered from eating disorders. McCurdy details her experiences with anorexia, binging and bulimia, which began under her mother’s influence.
McCurdy grew up manipulated and taken advantage of by the adults around her, from her mother to those on set. Not only did adults fail to shield her and the other child stars from The Creator, but she also revealed she dated a crew member who was nearly twice her age and left his girlfriend of five years to be with her.
It all ties back to the very fitting book title. McCurdy’s mother’s narcissistic tendencies created a hostile environment where McCurdy had trouble identifying signs of danger and spent years recovering in therapy. In an interview with ABC News, McCurdy’s language and thoughtfulness as she speaks allows viewers to glimpse how much she’s worked to recover. “My mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me,” McCurdy wrote.