Film & TV

‘iCarly’ Shines with Unfiltered Paramount+ Reboot

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Through mentions of sex, kink-shaming and anti-vaxxers, “iCarly” is back with a refined, unfiltered take on internet comedy.

In the age of the reboot, it’s only fitting “iCarly” would be revisited. A show centering around a live-streaming teen navigating the world was ahead of its time when the original premiered in 2007, and a fresh take in a world of social media dominance makes perfect sense.

Of course, “iCarly” was rebooted to lure subscribers to the Paramount+ streaming service. But the concept shines in the modern setting, making for a win-win.

Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) remains a lovable and relatable lead character. Cosgrove (“School of Rock,” “Drake and Josh”) is a natural in the role, picking up right where she left off when the show originally ended in 2012. Her awkward demeanor and self-depreciating nature carry Carly as a rootable main character, and one who never soaks up the scenery.

“iCarly” truly returns without missing a beat. It’s the same quirky comedy, over-the-top energy adapted to a revamped cast and more adult concepts. The reboot works because it’s written for fans of the original show with a clear understanding of what made it so successful.

The overly saturated set design remains, Spencer (Jerry Trainor) still accidentally sets art on fire and Freddie’s mom still accosts him for laughs. The reboot is fervently “iCarly,” for better or for worse.

The whiplash of hearing Carly utter the word “bitch” and the crew toasting with glasses of champagne is off-set by the natural approach. Carly and Freddie (Nathan Kress) are still best friends at 26 — adjusting to life without Sam (Jennette Mccurdy), who is off touring with a biker gang. 

Carly’s new roommate Harper (Laci Mosley) slides easily into the dynamic, and Freddie’s former step daughter-turned-adopted daughter Millicent (Jaidyn Trippett) is a solid addition, even if she plays into the sassy child character dynamic a little too much.

While Sam was an integral part of the original series, the reboot moves on easily without her. It’s easy to forget Sam ever existed. Carly remains the center of the show, and a strong one. From her sibling dynamic with Spencer to her friendships with Freddie and Harper, as well as her frenemy feud with Millicent, Carly is steering the ship smoother than ever.

“iCarly” is not firmly milquetoast like its predecessor, but it’s still wonderfully escapist. Harper is pansexual, the characters call out Republican senators and the patriarchy and the show addresses these topics with the same humor as others. Many shows attempt to address sociopolitical issues with dialogue sounding more like PSAs and reverberated Twitter threads — looking at you, “Grey’s Anatomy” circa season 14 — but “iCarly” plays it off naturally. 

It’s a strange world when “iCarly” is a beacon of how to address sociopolitical issues in comedy, but it’s fitting for the topsy-turvy times of today. Lines like “When he gets out here, we’re gonna ‘Michelle Obama’ him. You go low, I go high,” are an eclectic mix of iCarly cheesiness and the lack of real-world restraints, and it’s wonderful.

Carly mauls “baby Spencer” with skin-care products in her rebooted webshow; Nora Dershlit (Danielle Morrow) — the iCarly crew’s former stalker —  runs into the gang and relapses on her unhealthy addiction with them; Freddie makes jokes about being saddled with a tween daughter from his divorce, and it’s all complemented by an abrasive laugh track.

It’s “iCarly” with mimosas in place of lemonade — and an impressive stylist. Seriously, Carly’s outfits are serve after serve. Her rebooted webshow should’ve been a style vlog.

And, in true “iCarly” fashion, real-world brands have been given new, non-copyrighted terms. Pear Phones remain in place of iPhones, joined by Skybucks, a coffee shop emulating Starbucks, and the online site Quackfeed, a spin off Buzzfeed.

“iCarly” is everything a fervent fan would want it to be and a true gold standard for a reboot done right.

The first three episodes of “iCarly” are streaming now on Paramount+, with new episodes dropping weekly on Wednesdays.

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