Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Things Only Adults Notice In iCarly

Making its debut in 2007 on Nickelodeon with stars Miranda Cosgrove, Jennette McCurdy, Nathan Kress, and Jerry Trainor, iCarly was a breezy series about a trio of teens who produced a viral comedy web show. The show became immensely popular for the network, as evidenced by the 11.2 million reported viewers (according to Multichannel News) who tuned in for the Season 3 episode "iSaved Your Life." Later on, iCarly spawned a spin-off series starring McCurdy's character Sam and Ariana Grande from Victorious. Another planned spin-off never got off the ground, but was planning to be built around Noah Munck's recurring character Gibby.

Now, with the original episodes finding a second life on Netflix, many people have been re-discovering one of Nickelodeon's most popular live-action comedies of the 2000s. What they might not expect, however, is that the child-friendly show they once adored has more adult subtexts then they might have picked up the first time. With that in mind, here is a list of things only adults notice when they watch iCarly.

Violation of consent is a punchline

When it comes to the show's men, most notably Freddie (played by Kress) and Spencer (Trainor), violation of consent is repeatedly played for laughs. Although characters like Carly (Cosgrove) and Sam (McCurdy) don't face this troubling trend throughout the series, they are still subjected to creepy and borderline predatory comments. In fact, there are entire episodes that culminate in Carly getting out of a coerced kiss with her nemesis Nevel (Reed Alexander). However, the same narrative framing that show's Carly's escape in a triumphant light isn't extended to the male characters.

A great example can be seen in the Season 2 episode "iPie," as the gang's favorite pie shop is in danger of closing after the owner dies without having shared his recipe. Spencer tries to approach the owner's granddaughter Trudy (Wendy Haines) to procure the recipe, but she requires a date in exchange. Reluctantly going along with the idea, Spencer is physically dragged to the couch by a touchy-feely Trudy. Hearing Spencer's distressed cries, Carly and friends enter the apartment just in time; later, they wonder what would have happened had they not come in when they did. 

Though Freddie is routinely manhandled by Sam, the season two episode "iPsycho" features an excessive example as Sam, Freddie, and Carly are locked inside a sound booth by an obsessive fan. Attempting to appease their captor, Sam shoves Freddie's face into a pane of glass so the crazed fan can kiss the glass on the other side. In both instances, violation of consent is an alarmingly gendered joke.

Freddie lives in apartment 8=D

It is established from the very first episode of iCarly that Carly Shay and her older brother Spencer live right across the hall from Freddie Benson and his mother in the same apartment building. However, there is a small joke in the set design that was present even in the first episode, then stayed hidden in plain sight for much of the show's run. As Carly walks to her apartment from school, she drops her water bottle, only for an expectant Freddie to burst out his front door and chivalrously pick up the keys for his neighbor. In the wide shot, the apartment addresses are clearly shown. Carly and Spencer live in apartment 8-C. Meanwhile, Freddie and his mother live in apartment 8-D.

This is a truly unfortunate address for a kid who is routinely mocked by even his closest friends for being a weenie. For those who have failed to make the emoticon connection, let's just say that if addresses were emojis, Freddie lived at the eggplant apartment. Though the emoticon joke was typically used with an equal sign, the design of the dash on the address placard makes it look like an equal sign at first glance, giving the Bensons a truly unfortunate address.

Those squirrels definitely aren't wrestling

In the Season 2 episode "iBelieve in Bigfoot," Carly, Sam, Freddie, and Spencer take an RV into the wild to look for the legendary sasquatch. After seeing a news report on a cell phone video of what appears to be Bigfoot, the crew ships out with Freddie's AV equipment to get their own evidence for their web show. But alas, some people in the woods take the cameras that Freddie set up so they could remotely scope out the big hairy guy, leaving them without their tech.

So, as Freddie and Carly are looking out the window of their RV with binoculars, Freddie asks if Carly sees anything. Carly notes that, among other things, she sees "two squirrels wrestling." After Freddie gets the same glimpse he dutifully notifies her, "They're not wrestling." Realizing the miracle of nature that she's just witnessed, Carly slowly lowers her binoculars. Though the cameras thankfully don't show what Carly was able to see, it doesn't take binoculars for an adult to figure it out.

Guppy reads 'Nifty Shades of Beige'

In the show's penultimate episode, Spencer takes Gibby's younger brother Guppy (Ethan Munck) to an arcade to spend the day together. Intending to make the most of his day, Spencer dedicates his time at the arcade to winning the most sought after prize on the prize wall; meanwhile, Guppy is less interested in the flashing lights and games, choosing instead to sit at a table and read a novel titled Nifty Shades of Beige, obviously referencing the very popular, very adult book Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Even with the grey shifted to beige, it likely hasn't made for a very toned-down reading experience. Clearly, the book is way too mature for someone Guppy's age, and he should be focused on the Skee-Ball machines instead. The point is driven home by the surprised looks on Guppy's face as turns the pages from one scintillating passage to the next. It sure is a good thing that Spencer leaves the arcade with Guppy after winning his big stuffed shark, but it seems too little too late to spare the innocence of little Guppy.

Feet. Lots of feet.

One aspect of live-action shows on Nickelodeon at the time iCarly aired that has become infamous since their original airing is the prevalence of feet and foot related imagery. This has culminated in speculation from many people that the longtime showrunner at Nickelodeon, Dan Schneider, had a fascination for feet and subtly included feet in the shows he was making.

Dan Schneider has a tricky past with Nickelodeon, having created some of the channel's most successful live action shows such as Drake and Josh, The Amanda Show, and, of course, iCarly. However, in 2018, Schneider did not renew any contracts with Nickelodeon as rumors swirled about abusive behavior behind the scenes from the longtime producer (as reported by Deadline). In many of these shows, feet are routinely shown on screen, much more often than in similar comedy shows. This has not gone unnoticed by many adult viewers, who look back on the show and remember so many foot gags that even Quentin Tarantino would say enough's enough.

Even actors who appeared on the show as kids admit there was something a bit off about the foot thing. iCarly's Noah Munck, who played Gibby, admitted on a 2018 episode of The Official Podcast that the fetish is apparent looking back on the show. Munck clarified that he never witnessed any abuse from Schneider, but said, "The foot fetish...I never really noticed that when I was 15 on the show but, of course looking in retrospect, it's like, 'Okay.'"

'iCarly' could have worked as a popular web show at the time

One of the things adults watching iCarly might notice is how the show-within-a-show mirrors popular internet culture from the time it was released. Back in the ancient world of 2007, rage comics and "random" humor were at their peak. This can be evidenced by some of the most popular faces of internet video comedy. YouTube creators like The Annoying Orange, Ray William Johnson and Smosh were either enjoying or entering peak popularity and cultural relevancy at around that time. The bombastic, chaotic humor reflected in the absurd iCarly skits likely would have blended in with many of the original comedic skit YouTubers of the time. Folks like Ray William Johnson were notable for their reactions to weird, funny, and viral videos of the time, generating an audience who enjoyed the added comedic commentary and editing provided along with the videos.

In addition, many of the older YouTubers didn't have fancy setups to help them create content. In the words of GloZell Green talking to Business Insider about the production quality of early YouTube videos, "The quality was not good, but the videos were." With Freddie's advanced setup that involves tripods, multiple cameras, and a full studio set complete with variable lighting and a decent handle of special effects, it's absolutely no question that iCarly would have stood out as being particularly polished for its time.

The episode that gets weird about spanking

In the first season episode "iStakeout," a pair of police officers use Carly and Spencer's apartment as a base of operations for a stakeout while they seek someone selling pirated DVDs. Things start to get weird when one of the cops turns out to have bullied Spencer at sleepaway camp. Still just as enthusiastic as ever to have fun with Spencer, Detective Stuart "Spanky" Stimbler immediately picks up an umbrella and starts doing exactly what got him his nickname.

The episode is filled with Spanky using different objects found around the apartment (an umbrella, a toilet seat, even a cucumber) to spank Spencer. This all culminates in Spencer plotting revenge against the serial spanker. Spencer tricks Spanky into letting him be handcuffed to their couch. Once he can't escape, Spencer proceeds to repeatedly paddle Spanky with a broom. 

To make matters even more strange, Spencer reveals that Spanky's son is waiting in a large plastic tube. With a perturbing enthusiasm, Spencer calls to the kid, "Watch me spank your daddy!" Returning to his gleeful spanking, Carly walks down the stairs only to return after seeing the bizarre spectacle unfolding in her living room. Given the zeal that Spanky, his son, and Spencer all show for spanking, the whole episode gives off a weird, almost fetish-y vibe.

Carly and Sam are terrible friends to Freddie

While Carly and Sam have a fairly tight relationship, Freddie certainly receives the short end of the stick when it comes to their team. Though Freddie's ongoing infatuation with Carly is certainly too eager (sometimes verging on pushy) through an adult lens, what's more poignant is how much Carly uses this crush to her advantage, mostly when it comes to acquiring Freddie's tech talents for some iCarly bits.

While this isn't terribly noteworthy on its own, the lack of respect shown for Freddie by Sam in particular is very uncomfortable in retrospect. Sam verbally assaults Freddie with insults, hits him, pushes him, threatens him, and actively plots his downfall without any remorse. When Freddie does stick up for himself, Carly almost always minimizes the bullying.

In some cases, Carly does attempt to use his crush on her to dissuade him from speaking out any further — attempting to keep the peace, or making sure he doesn't walk out and leave the crew without a producer. To be honest Freddie seems like less of a friend and more like a punching bag for Sam, as well as a convenient cameraman for Carly. If it weren't for his skills behind the lens, it's highly unlikely that these three would be hanging out together at all. More likely, Sam and Carly would be best friends and Freddie would be crushing on Carly in the shadows.

Fixation with not violating copyright laws

In many memorable moments throughout the show, characters burst out into song. However, they never seemed to sing the songs that normal folks seem to sing in real life. When it came time to belt out a tune, the iCarly cast usually went out of their way to give an introduction along the lines of "Here's a public domain rendition of..." before the music kicks in. As a kid, it may be weird to hear people sing "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow," for instance, when real life would dictate the happy birthday song.

When you grow up and learn about copyright laws and the public domain, such moments make a lot more sense. Basically, when a work is within the public domain, that means that anyone can perform or use the piece of copyrightable material in almost any context they want with no fear of being sued. However, pieces of art not in the public domain have to be licensed from the rights holders, which can result in beaucoup bucks. So, it makes sense that the iCarly folks would poke fun at their limitation, omitting several cultural staples of casual singing in lieu of cheaper songs. 

It isn't uncommon for television shows to avoid paying for licenses to songs in favor of public domain titles. However, what makes iCarly stand out is the blatant acknowledgement that they are, in fact, trying to avoid a copyright infringement. This bit of fourth wall breaking can easily be overlooked by younger audiences, but for older viewers, it adds a tongue-in-cheek jab at television production conventions. 

Carly and Sam are routinely rude to their guests

One aspect of the show-within-a-show that adults may find unfortunate is seeing how Sam and Carly routinely treat their guests. Given how they act, it's genuinely surprising that they consistently get kids from their school to volunteer to travel to the studio and appear on the show.

After the guests on their show have their 15 seconds of fame during any particular segment, they're usually treated pretty rudely by Carly and Sam. The pair aren't typically mean to guests as they perform or do their part for the show, but instead of thanking them for showing up or offering their talents for the camera, Carly and Sam have a tendency to abruptly tell people to get off their set, live for their audience to see.

At their iCarly award show episode, as they gave arbitrary awards to people who had appeared on their show in videos or in-person, they cut almost everyone off and wouldn't let them have any sort of acceptance speech. In another instance, after inviting a schoolmate onto the show to play a game, they scared her and then essentially told her to beat it on camera. Frankly, being  a guest on iCarly sounds like more of a hassle than a privilege. 

'iCarly' should be hit with a bunch of lawsuits

Numerous legal threats were leveled at Carly, Sam, and Freddie's web show in different episodes and frankly, it's a wonder there wasn't more. 

In particular, the segment "Messing with Lewbert", where the iCarly gang annoys and disrupts the life of Carly and Freddie's apartment doorman, seemed particularly rife with legal hazard. In one notable episode, the show sent a fake muffin basket to the front desk armed with a confetti cannon. When Lewbert (Jeremy Rowley) picked up a muffin, the basket exploded and sent him to the hospital. In the real world, that's called a lawsuit.

In a later instance of the segment, someone beat up Lewbert and stole his jacket from inside a fake soda machine that was set up in one of the building's hallways. So yeah, clearly this gang was not looking to learn from past mistakes.

Putting aside lawsuits surrounding assault, theft, and almost being killed with improvised explosive devices specifically from Lewbert, one would think that the owner of Carly and Spencer's building might have something to say about a business being run out of a residence. In the real world, many apartments and condominium complexes have strict rules about these sorts of things. In addition to possible violation of their housing contracts, it seems likely that if Lewbert was injured while working for the company managing the building where iCarly is filmed, they would be the ones suing to stop the assaults, breaking and entering, and legal mischief featured on the show. Funny for kids but, as adults know, this is not exactly ideal tenant behavior.

Sam, Carly, and Freddie dox themselves repeatedly

Throughout the course of producing their web show, Carly, Sam, and Freddie invite a variety of guests and shoot in a number of different locations. Some of these guests are people they found on the internet and invited to their studio. Sometimes, they go to nondescript places like the supposedly abandoned, haunted apartment in Carly and Freddie's building. But at other times, the guests and places they feature on their show are inadvisable to say the least.

Some of the disclosures that are made on the show are harmless enough. They film in places around Seattle and make references to living there. However, some decisions seem to reveal a bit more personal information that anyone with a following likely would want advertised to tens of thousands of strangers.

Teachers from their school featured on the show, for instance, could be tracked down through looking up teacher rosters. However, Sam and Carly circumnavigate the issue of people digging up where their teachers work by giving a shoutout to their school while streaming live — and even filming from inside of it. They also show footage of their apartment building's lobby and only doorman, giving anyone serious about finding out the shooting location of iCarly a few bits of key info that they could find on their own with a minimal amount of work. 

Adults are smart enough to know that such things can be a really bad idea. Like so much else on the list above, these crazier aspects of iCarly were constructed with the laughter of kids in mind — and it's only now that repeated Netflix viewings give a whole perspective of such moments.