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What The ‘iCarly’ Reboot Understands About Its Audience That Other Gen Z Reboots Didn’t

On June 1, Paramount released the new iCarly reboot trailer along with the announcement that the first three episodes will premiere on Paramount+ on June 17. And I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching iCarly and seeing Spencer chow down on spaghetti tacos for the majority of my childhood, so I’m pretty excited. 

The Nickelodeon show reboot brings back three of its core main characters: Miranda Cosgrove as Carly, Nathan Kress as Freddie Benson, and Jerry Trainor as Carly’s quirky older brother, Spencer. Unfortunately, Sam (Jennette McCurdy) will not be joining the cast for the reboot, since she actually quit acting a few years ago. The trailer teases that the show will revolve around these three main characters’ lives just as the old show did. The only difference? Now they’re all grown up, and Carly has to work her way back up to become a hit internet sensation amid a new decade in which anyone can really become famous online.

iCarly fans took to Twitter to share their excitement about the grown-up version of the hit show. One user tweeted, “icarly reboot doesn’t look like it’s for kids they’re actually catering towards the people who watched it growing up why’d we win like that.”

And so, this begs the question: Why does the iCarly reboot seem to already be promising success, and where did other attempted reboots for Gen Z audiences go wrong? 

Why does the iCarly reboot seem to already be promising success, and where did other attempted reboots for Gen Z audiences go wrong?

One reboot that had a lot of promise was Disney’s That’s So Raven reboot called Raven’s Home starring Raven-Symoné. The show premiered in 2017 but hasn’t garnered as much popularity or buzz as Disney may have hoped. But why? The biggest problem with Raven’s Home was that although millennials and Gen Z grew up watching That’s So Raven, Raven’s Home was geared at a children’s audience, rendering it ultimately unappealing to those who grew up watching the show. Moreover, children today can’t connect with the 2000s nostalgia of That’s So Raven, meaning they won’t be as drawn to the show when there are so many other popular children’s television shows to watch. In other words, nobody wins.

The upcoming The Powerpuff Girls reboot starring Chloe Bennett, Dove Cameron and Yana Perrault on the CW shows the other side of the problem — the show attempted to please an older audience and overshot by a mile, focusing on much darker themes. It was announced in August 2020 that Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup would be returning to television screens as live-action versions of themselves: aggrieved twentysomethings who now “resent having lost their childhood to crime fighting,” according to the CW. Yeah… it’s pretty dark. Half of the joy of revisiting old shows is the nostalgia from that time in your life when you were a kid; trying to mutate these characters into something “cool” and “edgy” loses the heart of the show that was the reason people tuned in in the first place. After facing some criticism about the show’s darker plot (and the awful leaked script), the pilot is now being reworked. Fans have not yet been told when (or even if) it will be released, but I’m going to go ahead and call this one a loss.

Despite these shows’ failures to meet their audiences where they are, iCarly is not the first show to try to solve this problem. Take the Lizzie McGuire reboot, for example: a show that had so much potential given the success of Lizzie McGuire in the early 2000s, but ultimately failed before it could even start. With the release of the iCarly reboot trailer, fans began to compare the iCarly reboot to Disney’s attempted (and cancelled) Lizzie McGuire reboot, with one Twitter user writing, “see disney is going to be so embarrassed that they didn’t go through with that grown up lizzie mcguire reboot when the icarly one does well.”

The show is geared towards the Gen Z crowd that grew up watching iCarly as kids — but it also doesn’t take it too far.

So, what exactly happened with the Lizzie McGuire reboot? Why did it get canceled when its success seemed certain? It turns out Disney and Hilary Duff, who played Lizzie McGuire, majorly disagreed on where they wanted the show to go. Allegedly, Disney wanted to gear the show toward a younger audience and have the reboot be released on Disney+, while Duff wanted the show to mature along with Lizzie and be released on Hulu to appeal to an older target audience — the now-adult audience that grew up watching Lizzie McGuire. However, the two parties were ultimately not able to come to a compromise on the show and decided to not pursue a reboot.

Duff announced the bad news and posted on Instagram, “I know the efforts and conversations have been everything trying to make a reboot work, but sadly despite everyone’s best efforts, it isn’t going to happen. I want any reboot of Lizzie to be honest and authentic to who Lizzie would be today. It’s what the character deserves. We can all take a moment to mourn the amazing woman she would have been and the adventures we would have taken with her. I’m very sad, but I promise everyone tried their best and the stars just didn’t align.” Duff gets it — it’s just a shame that Disney doesn’t.

Let’s just say that the creators of the new iCarly reboot did their homework. Unlike Raven’s Home, The Powerpuff Girls, and Lizzie McGuire, iCarly’s reboot strikes the balance between maturity and immaturity. The show is geared towards the Gen Z crowd that grew up watching iCarly as kids, which is exactly what fans wanted — but (from what we know) it also doesn’t take it too far; it’s still a lighthearted comedy. Based on the trailer, the reboot seems to feature more mature themes like drinking alcohol and adult dating, but likely won’t be too inappropriate or as dark as The Powerpuff Girls reboot, for instance. (And thank God for that — I’m not sure I’d be able to stomach a show where Carly and Freddy are sent down a path of “resentment” like the poor Powerpuff Girls.) The show still seems to have the fun and quirky energy that drew fans into the show in the first place. My guess? It will definitely draw them in again, even years later.

Zoë is a national contributing writer and was formerly a summer 2021 editorial intern at Her Campus. She is also a senior at Loyola Marymount University where she studies English and public relations. In her free time, Zoë can be found taking photos, reading, and going to cute (but overpriced) coffee shops.
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