How Strange TV Shows on Nickelodeon Shaped Gen-Z

December 4, 2019

I don’t know much about shows on Nickelodeon currently; however, I do know that all the shows from my childhood are strange. Shows like the Drake and Josh, iCarly, Victorious, Big Time Rush, and Spongebob all shaped the way that Gen-Z acts and reacts. Below is some brief information about each show.

Drake and Josh starred Drake Bell and Josh Peck and it aired in the early 2000s. The plot revolved around a blended family consisting of two teenage brothers, and an evil little sister. Each episode was about the juxtaposition of the personalities of the two brothers and the situations it got them into.

iCarly was one of the most popular TV shows in the early to mid-2000s. It starred Miranda Cosgrove, Jeanette McCurdy, Nathan Kress, and Jerry Trainor. It featured the web series created by Cosgrove, McCurdy, and Kress’ characters and their lives as internet famous teenagers.

Victorious takes place at a performing arts high school, Hollywood Arts, in Los Angeles. It starred Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande, Liz Gilles, Avan Jogia, Leon Thomas 3, and Matt Bennett. It has recently been added to Netflix and has become popular again.

Big Time Rush was about a boy band made up of atypical singers, hockey players from Minnesota. They win a singing contest and get moved out to Los Angeles so they can write and produce songs as the band, Big Time Rush. It starred James Maslow, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena Jr., and Logan Henderson. They also were members of the band Big Time Rush in real life.

Lastly, Spongebob is one of Nickelodeon’s longest-running TV shows. Since it has been on for almost two decades, the show has undergone many changes relating to the producers, voice actors, and culture. It features the lovable sea sponge, Spongebob, and his life living in Bikini Bottom as a Fry Cook in the Krusty Krab.

Nickelodeon has aired many shows while Gen-Z were children but these were the most popular. All of these shows started “random culture” which, in my opinion, defines Gen-Z. Almost every episode of a Nickelodeon show features a random component. For example random dancing in iCarly and Carlos Pena Jr.’s character in Big Time Rush. Breaking into dances or doing strange things was normal, and it was not just a 12-year-old quirk. The teenagers, who were our role models, that we watched on TV did random things all the time. It seemed normal to just start dancing during math class or to say strange things, which makes sense considering the sense of humor that Gen-Z has as a whole. On Victorious, the character Robbie had a ventriloquist puppet named Rex. To make it even weirder, Robbie did not control Rex, and stated that he was NOT a puppet, he was a real person.

Especially since technology, as we know it in 2019, was beginning to be available on the market, Gen-Z kids were in-between the outside playing all the time kids’ attitudes that Millenials had and the always-online attitude that kids have now. As a child, I still went outside to play with my friends, but our playdates usually ended watching iCarly, playing barbies, or huddled around my Dad’s white plastic Mac desktop computer playing Club Penguin. Technology also evolved with these TV shows. Quality and technology featured in the show evolved as technology in the real world evolved. For example, in all of the shows, the characters owned pear phones, which were the equivalent to iPhones. They were shaped like pears and came in numerous bright colors. The creators and producers worked very hard to create a universe on Nickelodeon that seemed as if it actually existed. Nickelodeon shows also had a tendency to verge politically incorrect. Homeless people were called “hobos” (this made Ms. Yanson’s jaw drop) and illegally crossing the US boarder to get “fat cakes” which are like twinkies.

Dan Schneider was the producer of all of the shows previously mentioned excluding Big Time Rush and Spongebob. He is alleged to be a pedophile, and it is evident in the high amount of sexual innuendos present in the shows he produced. Female characters in his shows were sexualized. As a child, I did not understand why these jokes made my parents wince or murmur under their breath but now I do. I understand how adding in sexual innuendos can be beneficial for a children’s TV show. The kids won’t understand and they will think it is just something weird to say and that it is funny and the parents could also think it is funny, understanding the nature of the joke. However, all of the actors in the shows were young while filming and they still are children’s TV shows. Schneider’s contract with Nickelodeon was terminated a few years ago. There is no evidence that it was because of the multitude of sexual innuendos; however, it is not absurd to come to the conclusion that he was fired for similar reasons.


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