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The Controversy Between Sam And Cat's Jennette McCurdy And Ariana Grande Explained

While the two titular characters in "Sam and Cat" were best friends, it seems like stars Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy were not. Capitalizing on the success of series "iCarly" and "Victorious," the Nickelodeon show follows Cat Valentine (Grande) and Sam Puckett (McCurdy), two unlikely friends who become roommates and business partners. 

"Sam and Cat" became the network's highest-rated series in years, with the premiere episode reaching 4.2 million viewers (via The Wrap). Sam's snarky, sometimes mean persona contrasts well with Cat's sweet, innocent, and sometimes dopey demeanor. The two encounter characters from both "iCarly" and "Victorious," while also making a plethora of new friends along the way.

Despite the show's success, "Sam and Cat" suddenly went on hiatus in April 2014 and was subsequently canceled that July (via Deadline). Towards the end of the show, rumors swirled about the behind-the-scenes relationship between Grande and McCurdy being part of the reason for the cancellation, which led fans to suspect there may have been bad blood between the two stars.

Rumors of a strained friendship circulated

It's no secret that Ariana Grande's career boomed shortly after "Sam and Cat" began. After releasing her debut album "Yours Truly" in 2013, she earned her first Top 10 hit with "The Way" (via Billboard), and her music career went skyrocketing from there.

Then in late 2013, the gossip site Crazy Days and Nights released a post claiming that Jennette McCurdy was getting into trouble, drinking and "hitting strip clubs." The post goes on to describe Grande's (supposed) response to the events, stating that her team wanted McCurdy "removed from their mutual show in favor of someone more clean cut" so as not to ruin Grande's career "momentum." To make it even worse for McCurdy, her mother Debra lost her battle to cancer around the same time. McCurdy returned to set after taking only six days off and continued filming "Sam and Cat" while in mourning (via Vulture).

In 2014, "Sam and Cat" was nominated for Best TV Show at the Kids Choice Awards (via IMDb). After declining to attend, McCurdy explained in a tweet that she didn't go because she was put in an "uncomfortable, compromising, unfair situation," but neglected to specify what she was specifically referring to. TMZ reported that McCurdy skipped out the awards show because she was being paid less than Grande, despite being the other titular star, but Grande denied this in a TwitLonger post, claiming that she and her co-star were being paid an equal salary.

A fake tweet made things worse

In June of 2014, shortly before the show was cancelled, Jennette McCurdy posted another tweet about letting go of a toxic friendship, which many assumed was referencing Ariana Grande. Similarly, when the cancellation  of "Sam and Cat" was announced, Grande shared an emotional farewell letter on TwitLonger that thanked the cast, crew, and fans, but failed to make any mention of McCurdy.

After the show's cancellation, there was very little mention of the two actresses together. Then, at the end of 2014, McCurdy launched a web series called "What's Next for Sarah?", about a former child star trying to figure out what's next. The series features McCurdy as a character named Gloriana who dons a high ponytail, which fans speculated was a dig at Grande (via Hollywood Life). McCurdy joked about the character with gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who tweeted, "Can I be in an upcoming episode? I can be #Gloriana's obnoxious gay brother," a thinly veiled reference to Grande's brother, Frankie Grande.

Following the exchange with Hilton, someone then created a fake tweet (which people thankfully took a screenshot of before it was deleted from Twitter) that showed Grande saying she couldn't see McCurdy and Hilton's tweets from "up here in the charts." At the time, McCurdy thought the tweet was real and shot back, "you clearly could because you responded directly to a conversation you weren't tagged in. #byeforever."

McCurdy cleared the air

While Ariana Grande has never made any public statements about her issues with Jennette McCurdy, McCurdy finally addressed the popular misconception that she and Grande didn't get along in 2015, telling E! News that the pair "butted heads" but in a very "sisterly way." Luckily, there has been no further drama since.

In June of 2021, McCurdy revealed on an episode of her podcast "Empty Inside," called "Pressure," that she was initially promised her own solo spin-off show after "iCarly" ended, and that Grande was added to the show last minute. "Then we started the show and her explosion to Ariana Grande fame happened during our first 20 episodes," McCurdy explained. "She would have to miss work because she was pulled in all directions. She's gotta do the radio shows, she's gotta do Billboard Awards, the Grammys. She's performing at the Grammys and I'm, like, acting on this show with a box because they decided for that week her character had to be trapped in a box so she can go perform at the Grammys." McCurdy also admitted that she was jealous of Grande's stardom: "I was like, 'I deserve more.' I didn't even want to do music, like pop star things, so I don't know why I was comparing myself to that person." 

Since the ending of "Sam and Cat," Grande has furthered her music career and recently launched her own cosmetic line (via Page Six), while McCurdy announced her retirement from acting in 2017, which she stated was for the sake of her mental health (via Variety). She continues to discuss the struggles she faced as a child star working for Nickelodeon on "Empty Inside." McCurdy also briefly came out of retirement in September 2021 to perform a one-woman stage show in Los Angeles, which she posted about on Instagram.