Jun 27, 2013

ICarly: Gay Villains and Bisexual Brothers

The Nickelodeon teencom has a mixed record.  Drake and Josh, Zoey 101, and Victorious are masterpieces of gay subtext.  What I Like About You and Wendell and Vinnie are undefatigably heterosexist.  ICarly (2007-2012) combines gay subtext with homophobia.









Miranda Cosgrove (center) plays Carly, a Seattle teen who lives with her older brother, a free-spirit artist named Spencer (Jerry Trainor, top).  She produces and stars in  a comedy-variety webseries with the rough, aggressive proto-delinquent Sam (Jenette McCurdy) and the nerdish Freddie (Nathan Kress).  Brief clips from the series appeared in each episode, and there were others on the ICarly website.

Carly and Sam can easily be shipped as a lesbian couple, in spite of their endless machinations after boys.

Although Spencer is frequently shown dating women, he is obviously bisexual.

1. He hosts a group of Eastern European bodybuilders in swimsuits.
2. He dreams that, while in drag, he rejects a series of male admirers until he finds the most attractive.
3. He handcuffs a former bully and gleefully spanks him.
4. Carly is searching for Bigfoot through binoculars, but sees "Just two guys.  And they're not even cute."  Spencer responds: "Bummer!"


5. In "IGo Green," Spencer returns to the apartment with a same-sex date, Cal (Jake Siegel), obviously expecting to be alone.  After gamely introducing Cal to Carly ("Come meet the guy I found!),  he keeps trying to steer him into the bedroom, but is stymied by Cal's interest in Carly's science fair project.

6. In "IFind Spencer Friends," the gang thinks that Spencer needs a new "friend," they evaluate several possibilities, including guys wearing only towels in a locker room and a guy who broke up with his boyfriend in the supermarket.  Gibby even approaches a man in the restroom with "a proposition."

So what's the problem?

An ongoing homophobic contempt for gender-nonconformity and gay potential of any sort.

1. Carly catches Spencer browsing an online dating site, and says "That's a dude!" in disgust.
2. Spencer is arrested for appearing in public in drag.
3. Sam frequently calls boys who are inadequately masculine prancies, no doubt meaning pansies.
4. In "IMove Out," the gang run afoul of an evil gay couple who run a pet photography business.
5. The Big Bad of the series, rival webseries host Neville, is a sophisticated, effeminate, gay-coded villain who says things like "Would you like a tapanade?" and "You'll rue the day!"

In contrast to the vocally gay-allied cast of Victorious, the ICarly cast has been suspiciously silent, except for a tweet Jennette McCurdy made in support of Chick-Fil-A.  Nathan Kress (#6 on my list of unexpected Nickelodeon Teen Hunks) and Noah Munck (who plays the effervescent Gibby) are both evangelical Christians.  They might be ok, of course, but the odds are they have adopted the homophobia of their churches.