I really don't want to come across as though I am beating a dead horse here, after all, I did claim Dan Schneider being at the helm of the show as a primary reason that Kenan and Kel did so well, but it just can't be understated: Dan Schneider has made Nickelodeon what it is. The way that people perceive Nickelodeon's humor is completely on Dan Schneider and the way that he made shows in the so called "Golden Age" of Nickelodeon. Kenan and Kel and The Amanda Show would be the first to cement Nickelodeon's childish, over-exaggerated style of comedy, with Drake and Josh pushing the “Two guys getting in trouble” format once again not even a decade later. But then we had this unusual part in the Nickelodeon time-line where everything took a shift and girls programming became a more viable market to sell to. iCarly, True Jackson, VP and (later on) Victorious became some of the most popular programming Nickelodeon had to offer, with little in the way of their animated golden age being replicated in any manner. Nickelodeon had officially hit a new age, one in which girls dominated the market and had spoken loudly: We want more of this and we want it now.
iCarly was the show to start this trend. Whilst Zoey 101 came out before and was also produced by Schneider, iCarly was the “Beatles-Mania” of programming and to an extent, still is. It was first aired on September 8th, 2007 and since then has gone on to bring in some of the highest ratings of any Nick program and also gone on to be nominated for countless awards, winning few. Much like other commercially successful Nickelodeon shows, iCarly has a large adult fan-base as well as children, opening it up to new worlds of popularity.
So on a more critical agenda, is the show any good and how does it stack up compared to other Schneider shows? Well... it's pretty great. The story-lines, although mostly always stock children's fare, are generally inventive, the characters are interesting although slightly one-dimensional and the humor is almost spot on Schneider comedy. Although the leads are generally great, you are going to come to love the side-characters such as Spencer, Gibby and Lewbert more. Spencer is like if you put Jack Black and Jim Carrey in a blender, which depending on your sense of humor either sounds like heaven or hell, Gibby is just one of those characters who popped up and somehow became the subject of popularity on the show, eventually becoming one of the leads in the later seasons and after solidifying himself as a lead, is soon to be the star of a spin-off show to iCarly.
To delve into the story-lines of the first season more, if you have watched Schneider's earlier works you know what to expect here. Something important happens, something goes wrong, people need to rectify said problem. It's a tried and true formula that hasn't been ruined yet due to familiarity and it works here too. In one of the episodes, Carly and Sam are teamed up to do a school project in which they have to hatch Chicks, but when they hatch pre-maturely and escape their incubator, Carly, Sam and Freddie try and find all of them before there is “Six cute little chicken funerals!”. The story structurally is very similar to stories told in other Schneider shows. iCarly isn't trying to show creativity and originality in the way Adventure Time is presently, it's just trying to be fun like all of these shows have in the past and for the most part, it succeeds tremendously. Whilst the first season certainly derives from the A happens, B goes wrong, fix it with C structure even more than later seasons, it really is the glue that holds the story-lines together throughout the whole run of the show.
This isn't a show for people who are looking for the most impactful humor ever, it's more goofy than anything. Although this article has been extremely referential, especially about shows Schneider has produced before, it is true that if you understand the humor on display in Drake and Josh, you will understand the humor here, In fact, Spencer in the show is very reminiscent of Josh in certain areas (considering Spencer had a minor role in D&J as Crazy Steve, this makes sense). Everything is hyperactive in its delivery, much like those old Amanda Show skits (maybe toned down a bit though... I can't imagine twenty minutes of Meatloaf Crunch or Popper Pants would work out for anyone besides me).
Lets talk about the main characters for a while, Carly, Sam and Freddie. Although all of them are more a strength than a weakness, I think Carly is my least favorite of the three and it's not because she's a bad actor, not at all, I think it's that she has the most monotonous character to have to play. She's the person who has to facially say “Oh You!” after someone makes a humorous comment. She's the Monica of iCarly, I've just realized. Sam is as one-dimensional as they come, however still ends up being a highlight in many episodes. There are two things you need to know about Sam, which iCarly's team shoves down your throat at any given opportunity: 1. She hates Freddie, 2. She's a criminal/tomboy/bad-girl. Although the former piece of information about Sam actually works itself into something interesting much later on in iCarly's run, in the first season it's slightly obnoxious to hear Sam's usually unfunny one-liners about Freddie constantly. Now the whole criminal thing I guess is just to let you know that she is the opposite of Carly, which can sometimes work in humorous ways, but for the most part just brings in more Oh You's. Freddie's personality shines above the other two mostly because there's more than one thing they can do with Freddie. Although Freddie's inability to be humorous is the subject of parts of several episodes, Freddie's pretty funny, he is wacked-up on Technology and has a crush on Carly. With all of those three things, at least there are ways in which they can incorporate Freddie into more complex situations than the A, B, C episodes we see in this season.
iCarly is a show that fits in perfectly with the line-up Schneider has brought to Nickelodeon, however it doesn't triumph over the shows he has done beforehand quality-wise in terms of premise, nor humor. iCarly has a great premise, girl makes internet web-series with her two friends, it's a great idea, it's original and it leaves itself open to many wacky situations, however I think Schneider's humorous charm is more soluble in a skit-environment, which is why for me The Amanda Show certainly stands above iCarly in terms of premise and humor, whilst Kenan and Kel and Drake and Josh stands over iCarly in humor because of the keen comedic timing of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell and Drake Bell and Josh Peck playing off each other so well. However don't take this as a reason to not watch the show, it's heart's in the right place and most of the time it's humor and story-lines are too. Trust me, it's worth seeing. Heck, you might get slightly addicted like a certain someone who's going to hit up his Season One DVD right now.