Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” has made it to Netflix. Finally, we can take a blast to the past and relive our childhoods, spaghetti tacos and all. While many of us are thoroughly enjoying the hilarity Carly, Sam and Freddy provided, it’s important to remember what these child actors had to endure. When “iCarly” was on air, Nickelodeon was rife with fetishization and creepy jokes, and the young actors suffered because of it.
Nickelodeon fanatics may remember the name Dan Schneider from the credits of some classic Nick programs. He was the producer for several shows, including “iCarly,” “VICTORiOUS” and “Drake & Josh.” He’s been back in the spotlight after iCarly’s appearance on Netflix, as allegations about his treatment of young actresses have persisted. These allegations particularly revolve around Schneider’s seemingly unshakable obsession with his actresses’ feet.
Rewatching “iCarly,” I’ve realized just how many feet-related shenanigans occur. From toe puppet shows to characters literally having someone’s feet put in their mouth, it’s amazing how many feet-related incidents we missed or laughed at as kids. The foot talk didn’t stop on screen, either. It made its way to Twitter. In 2009, Schneider tweeted from his personal account about a recent “iCarly” episode, saying, “Carly tickles Sam’s very unusual toes! If you have a moment, will you please NAME Sam’s toes for us?”
Schneider’s obsession with feet didn’t stop with Hollywood actresses unfortunately. In 2013, the official Twitter for “Sam & Cat” — a crossover spin-off of “iCarly” and “VICTORiOUS” produced by Schneider — asked the show’s preteen audience to send in pictures of their feet. The thread of this tweet now largely consists of people calling out how creepy this is and saying the tweet must have been Schneider’s idea. The most liked tweet on this thread is one from Twitter user @PAXILPARTY, who wrote “Dan Schneider is a pedophile” on the bottom of their feet.
The weirdness didn’t stop at “iCarly” either. Ariana Grande’s character Cat on “VICTORiOUS” also received her fair share of foot fetishism. In one exclusively online video for the show, Grande says, “Have you ever tried to get your whole big toe in your mouth? Check this out,” and proceeds to bite and suck at her own foot for about five seconds, a time span I have deemed five seconds too long for that content.
Multiple actresses from Schneider’s shows have alluded to the abuse they withstood at Nickelodeon. Jennette McCurdy, better known as Sam from “iCarly,” makes TikToks about her time at Nick and her “past traumas.” She also made a disturbing Vine of her in messy, crazed makeup and dress saying, “Hey, Dan Schneider. I know you’re watching my Vine. Do you like my Vine? Vine. Vine. Vine. Look what you’ve done to me.”
All this evidence has brought me to the conclusion that Schneider was a huge creep, if not a pedophile. He certainly made life hard for the young actresses he worked with. Part of me would like to encourage readers to stop watching his shows and to take “iCarly” off their Netflix binge list. But I can’t bring myself to say that. I loved “iCarly” as a kid, and I still do today. After a very turbulent year, it’s been nice to sit back and remember life how it was in the late 2000s, to wonder how T-Bo’s donuts-on-a-stick taste and to dream about living in Carly and Spencer’s apartment.
We can’t destroy everything we’ve ever loved because of its flaws. If we really wanted to stop consuming all media with a problematic past, we’d have to stop consuming almost everything. Think of the very real scandals that occur behind the scenes of reality TV, every news anchor who reported something in a biased way, all the actresses who have come out with allegation after allegation about what seems like half the men in Hollywood. We can’t boycott it all. None of Schneider’s shows are still in production. The women he’s hurt are now free. We can enjoy their work so long as we support them in the present.
Because of this, I see little harm in watching “iCarly” or any of Schneider’s other shows. However, I think the best thing we can do is encourage and promote those actors and actresses who were victimized by Schneider. Almost all the big names from our childhoods have gone on to bigger and better things. We all know how Grande’s career has rocketed since her time on Nickelodeon. McCurdy now has a podcast called “Empty Inside,” where she talks about her struggles with mental health. Miranda Cosgrove is the host of Mission Unstoppable, a Saturday morning CBS show placing the spotlight on women in STEM. These women are no longer under Schneider’s thumb, and we should encourage them as adult individuals who survived Hollywood and all the scandals that come with it.