“iCarly,” a late-2000s gem on Nickelodeon that was on the cutting edge of YouTube video culture, has returned with a new series on Paramount Plus, featuring familiar goofy, slapstick humor. But it’s added a more adult edge to target our modern influencer-obsessed way of life.
Some 14 years after “iCarly” first premiered, web-show host Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) is all grown up, much like the Nickelodeon kids that enjoyed the original show. She and the cast of new and returning characters ditch their video cameras for smartphones and tackle some slightly edgier topics than what would’ve appeared on the show in its first run. There are still plenty of kid-friendly antics, physical comedy and eye-rolling puns, but every once in a while the Paramount Plus series will toss in a sex joke, a self-referential gag and even — gasp! — a swear word. (The writers even made sure to include a joke about the COVID pandemic.)
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The more mature themes fit older characters who are going through many of the same problems as their young adult viewers — who may be nostalgic for their own simpler, Nickelodeon-filled childhoods. Carly recovers from a breakup and attempts to rekindle her passion for making her old-school web show in the modern world. Her brother Spencer (Jerry Trainor) is a successful artist who struggles to find his next creative spark and the approval of his loved ones. Carly’s new roommate Harper (Laci Mosley) has dreams of being a stylist but is stuck working a barista job. (In a show of progressive diversity that likely would’ve been axed by 2000s Nickelodeon, Harper is openly bisexual.) And in a more unexpected twist, returning character Freddie Benson (Nathan Kress) is divorced and living with a tech-savvy daughter named Millicent (Jaidyn Triplett) back with his mom in her apartment.
The revival also briefly explains why Carly’s best friend and co-host Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) hasn’t returned, and other original “iCarly” characters make appearances in the show — though sadly not fan-favorite Gibby (Noah Munck). Harper and Millicent are great additions to the cast; they offer the same levels of zany humor and facial expressions that the returning stars carry over from the first series. Millicent brings a Gen Z perspective and social media awareness to the millennial cast, while the writers make light of current-day topics like ASMR, internet trolls and influencer apologies to fans.
The new “iCarly” doesn’t change much from its successful Nickelodeon formula, beyond modernizing the jokes for an older crowd more tapped into a changing internet culture than ever. The characters still act like “ding-dongs,” but there are good laughs and clever moments throughout. For fans who grew up with Cosgrove and “iCarly,” the revival feels like catching up with a childhood friend and sharing in the challenges of adulthood, without shedding any of the humor or personality from when you first met.
“iCarly” streams weekly on Paramount Plus; the first three episodes are now available.
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