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Rise of the Reboots: iCarly

*Spoiler Alert - do not read unless you have (a) seen iCarly or (b) love spoilers as much as we do*

Image source: Paramount +

I was swiping through my ‘recently viewed’ on Foxtel Go and came across a startling discovery. With the exception of CW’s Stargirl and anything made by Ryan Murphy (A.K.A American Horror and Crime Story), everything else I was actively watching was a reboot or remake. I am sure that some of these shows started production before COVID hit, however I can’t help but think the need comfort and our nostalgia to pre-pandemic times was a massive driver for the rise of the reboot.

Associate Professor Linda Byrne from Deakin University explained that in stressful times, people seek predictability and comfort, to counteract their stress and anxiety. Watching shows that we have already seen may provide reassurance, and a sense of nostalgia, even for the future. Moreover, in an article published by Cosmopolitan Magazine, Daniella Scott suggested that Hollywood may consider reboots to be a “safe bet” as there is a "ready-made audience for the taking," particularly in times where filmmakers aim to maximise their success during an economically turbulent time.

With this in mind, I have decided to explore whether this desire and craving for nostalgia can trump my loyalty to the initial make of the television show or movie.

For my first entry of the Rise of the Reboot series, I have decided to look at Paramount +’s iCarly reboot.

iCarly (2021)

Like most born on the cusp of Generation Z and millennialism, iCarly formed a solid part of my childhood. From spaghetti tacos and Spencer’s often flammable art, to loving-to-hate Freddie’s mum and Nora Dershlit, iCarly brought plenty of light-hearted laughs and very distinctly Nickelodeon characters. When I heard that Paramount + was bringing an iCarly reboot where Carly is all-grown up and still involved in the internet sphere, I was very excited to see what direction it would take. Like the promised but ultimately undelivered Lizzie McGuire Reboot (RIP), the target audience of the reboot was the initial fans of the show (AKA - me).

I thoroughly enjoyed the show! We got to see Carly Shae recovering from one of the first big break-ups in her adult life, navigating “cancel culture,” and evading a multi-marketing pyramid scheme while starting her web-show back up. She now also occasionally says “bitch.” She and Freddie, also, almost have a threesome. Freddie is now a step-father to the devious Millicent, and back living with his mother. While our loveable but volatile best friend Sam Puckett has not returned, Carly’s new BFSS (Best Friend Since Sam), Harper, brings some well appreciated diversity to the brand - Harper is a woman of colour and openly bisexual.

In one episode, Harper and Spencer compete to see who can get more phone numbers at a wedding than the other, and it not only leads to some hilarious moments on screen, but also integrated so naturally into the script and overall series. While the reboot touches on more socially conscious and progressive themes, I think all Gen-Z/millennial viewers will appreciate how this is done in a way that feels natural and within the themes of the overall series.

One of my favourite episodes was when Carly was trying to impress her new beau by going above and beyond and trying to cook for his grandma (as if we haven’t all being there!). To me, watching the reboot felt like catching up with an old friend for coffee after years apart. It makes for a good light-hearted watch while you are cleaning your room or wanting to be taken a little bit (but not too much) back to your childhood. I would compare it to re-watching Friends or How I Met Your Mother, in that it provides comfort, but is not the most hard-hitting or cinematically ground-breaking hour of television.

With this, I think the Lizzie McGuire Reboot was a gravely missed opportunity to appeal to the nostalgic fans who grew up with McGuire and her friends. iCarly showed how a balance can be achieved between family friendly television with more adult topics and themes. I think from iCarly it wouldn’t be surprising if we see a wave of shows from a similar time era (cough Zack and Cody can you hear me? cough) making the most of this wave of nostalgia.

You can watch the entire first season (yay to bingeing) on Paramount +!

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