iCarly’s Sam Puckett, badass best friend to main character Carly Shay, had some serious mommy issues. Her mom, an abusive, absentee parent portrayed by Jane Lynch, was one of the character’s favorite talking points. Now, over a decade after the Nickelodeon show premiered, Jennette McCurdy, the actress behind the lovable tomboy, has opened up about the trauma she suffered at the hands of her own mother off-screen.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, McCurdy opened up about this tumultuous time ahead of the August 9 release of her memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died:
“My whole childhood and adolescence were very exploited,” she told the newspaper. “It still gives my nervous system a reaction to say it. There were cases where people had the best intentions and maybe didn’t know what they were doing. And also cases where they did — they knew exactly what they were doing.”
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“McCurdy endured various embarrassments and indignities at Nickelodeon, where she writes of being photographed in a bikini at a wardrobe fitting and being encouraged to drink alcohol by [the Creator],” said the article.
While the book, as its title implies, will focus on McCurdy’s relationship with her mother, Debra, it may also detail experiences with someone who she refers to as “the Creator.” The most likely identity of this person, who the article calls “an intimidating figure,” is Dan Schneider. The now-infamous producer was the creator of not only iCarly but most other popular Nickelodeon sitcoms, including Zoey 101, Victorious and Sam & Cat, in which McCurdy also appeared as Sam Puckett. Though the iCarly actress hasn’t revealed who the Creator is, she has called out Schneider before in a disturbing and accusatory Vine.
McCurdy wouldn’t have been an actor at all if it weren’t for her mother who, when the actress was only 6, dragged her into the industry that would go on to deeply traumatize her; it was never the Sam & Cat actress’s dream to act — it was her mother’s. According to the Times, after booking the Nickelodeon show, McCurdy wrote: “Everything’s going to be better. Mom will finally be happy. Her dream has come true.”
McCurdy’s mother, who died of cancer in 2013, didn’t just oversee her daughter’s career. She would give McCurdy breast and vaginal exams in order to — at least according to her — inspect for cancer. She would also shave her legs, bathe her and control what she ate. While her death freed McCurdy from her mom’s control, it also left her to deal with eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, struggles with alcohol abuse and more all by herself.
Even her close friends, like iCarly co-star and leading lady Miranda Cosgrove, were oblivious to her struggles. Cosgrove told the Times that as a young person, it’s difficult to see the struggles of those around you, adding that, “You don’t expect things like that from the person in the room who’s making everyone laugh.”
McCurdy was the only one of iCarly’s core four — Carly (Cosgrove), Freddie (Nathan Kress) and Spencer (Jerry Trainor) — who did not return for the recent Paramount+ revival, which just got renewed for a third season. For the first time since leaving the industry, however, she told the Times that she isn’t ruling out acting and performing in the future. It may be more doable for the star now that she’s had time to start reflecting and working through her trauma.
“I want my life to be in my hands,” McCurdy told the Times. “Not an eating disorder’s or a casting director’s or an agent’s or my mom’s. Mine.”
Photo via Getty/ Axelle/ Bauer-Griffin/ FilmMagic
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