Last week, former Nickelodeon child star Jennette McCurdy released her memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died.
The autobiography detailed Jennette’s troubled childhood and complicated relationship with her mother, Debra McCurdy, who died in 2013. She also reflected on her acting career and made shocking allegations about her time on set.
Jennette starred as Sam Puckett in iCarly between 2007 and 2012, joining the show at the age of 15. In 2013, Jennette reprised her role for a new teen sitcom called Sam & Cat, which was a spinoff of iCarly and another Nickelodeon show, Victorious.
Ariana Grande starred as Cat Valentine in both Victorious and Sam & Cat, and all three series were created by Dan Schneider.
Throughout her memoir, Jennette recounted troubling experiences with an unnamed person that she called “The Creator,” and it's widely assumed that she is referring to Dan.
She claimed that The Creator supplied her with alcohol in a bid to loosen her up, despite the fact that she was under the legal drinking age in the US at the time.
Jennette also said that she felt like she was sexualized during her time on iCarly, and that she was photographed wearing a bikini during a wardrobe fitting. The Creator is also said to have forced Jennette to reshoot her first onscreen kiss — which was also her first kiss ever — seven times despite her being visibly uncomfortable.
The actor said that she was “terrified of being looked at as a sexual being” and recalled feeling uncomfortable when The Creator gave her a shoulder massage against her wishes.
In addition to her concerning experiences with The Creator, Jennette had a tense relationship with her costar Ariana.
In fact, when Sam & Cat was canceled after just one year, it was widely speculated that this was because Jennette was angry after learning that Ariana was being paid more than her.
Jennette denied this in her memoir, but did admit to feeling frustrated by the accommodations that were being made for Ariana's then-flourishing music career during filming.
While Jennette was apparently being forced to turn down movie projects because the writers would refuse to write her out of episodes, they extended the courtesy to Ariana.
Jennette said that her annoyance came to a head when she discovered that Ariana’s character was going to be locked in a box for an entire episode to explain the star’s absence from the show.
She also admitted that she was "jealous" of Ariana on a personal level, namely because the singer had an idyllic upbringing with a loving and wealthy family — a stark contrast to Jennette’s own experience.
And Jennette was apparently led to believe that her character would be the focus of the spinoff show, so she was frustrated when Ariana’s Cat was added to the mix.
Jennette says in her book that when she left Nickelodeon for good, she was offered $300,000 “hush money” to stop her from speaking publicly about her experiences on the network, but she declined.
While many people were horrified by Jennette’s recollections, and had sympathy for the way that she was treated, it has now been claimed that Ariana was also a “victim” during her time as a child actor.
In light of Jennette’s allegations, a fan resurfaced Skarlett Akira’s 2019 YouTube compilation called "Ariana Grande being sexualized on Victorious for 2 minutes straight," which highlighted Ariana’s “disturbing” and “disgusting” scenes as Cat Valentine. They reposted the video to Twitter, and it quickly went viral.
When the first season of Victorious aired in 2010, Nickelodeon also launched a website called The Slap, which gave viewers exclusive videos of the characters away from the show.
One category of videos was called Cat’s Random Thoughts, which focused on Ariana’s character in a series of self-tapes. All eight of the mini episodes were written and directed by Dan.
In the compilation, Ariana — who was just 16 years old at the time — can be seen in a series of suggestive and compromising situations, including putting a finger in her mouth, sucking on her own toe, and trying to “juice a potato” while moaning.
At one point, Ariana screams, “I’m soaking wet,” and in another video, she lies upside down on a bed and pours water all over her face and chest.
“everyone keeps bringing ariana grande for stan drama against jennette and idk why. let’s not forget, ariana is a victim herself from the creepiness of dan schneider. this is why she doesn’t talk about the role of cat valentine anymore. they sexualized and infantilized her,” the original poster tweeted alongside the video.
They followed up with a scene from Victorious that saw Ariana’s character surrounded by men shooting water pistols at her while she wore just a bikini top and hot pants, and another from The Slap where Ariana’s teen costar, Victoria Justice, had her bare feet covered in ketchup.
“This always makes me nauseous, imagine ‘directing’ a teenager to do that stuff as a grown man,” one reply read.
“This is absolutely disgusting. As an adult watching this right now you can tell EXACTLY what they were doing,” someone else wrote. “I hope she speaks on it, people will definitely support her. But understand exactly why she doesn’t given how they treat people who do.”
“When she stuck her finger in her mouth... She looked physically uncomfortable, and the feet thing... Just... Wow, disgusting,” another added.
“This is completely disturbing,” one more said. Another wrote: “I always thought it was weird how many sexual undertones there was in the show.”
While Ariana doesn’t often discuss her time on Victorious or Sam & Cat, she did take part in the former’s 10-year anniversary celebration in 2020 and hasn’t ever spoken out against Dan.
Meanwhile, Dan left Nickelodeon in 2018, and three years later the New York Times reported that the network cut ties with him following an internal investigation that found evidence of verbal abuse toward his colleagues.
In an interview with the same publication, Dan addressed the allegations that he “sexualized” the child actors in his shows, and said that the claims were “ridiculous” and insisted that “the comedy was totally innocent.”
“I wouldn’t have the long-term friendships and continued loyalty from so many reputable people if I’d mistreated my actors of any age, especially minors,” Dan concluded at the time.
BuzzFeed News has contacted Nickelodeon for comment.