What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sam & Cat is a double-duty spin-off series featuring popular characters from two previous Nickelodeon shows: iCarly and Victorious. Stars Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy reprise their respective roles of Cat Valentine and Sam Puckett, which will thrill existing fans and may entice newcomers to check out the girls' previous work. This comedy series accomplishes what it sets out to do -- generating laughs through the odd pairing of two opposite personality types -- but it does so at the expense of any realistic content. Expect off-the-wall adventures with little consequence (bouncing on a man's chest becomes life-saving CPR, and turning kids loose in the city on a motorized scooter is touted as responsible babysitting, for instance), and no hands-on adult in sight, which gives teens free rein on mayhem and sends skewed messages to kids. On the other hand, the show does feature an unlikely but well-meaning friendship that survives ups and downs.
What's the story?
Nickelodeon stars Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande team up in SAM & CAT, a spin-off of iCarly and Victorious that follows the continuing story of two of the shows' most beloved characters. The story opens with a chance encounter between Sam Puckett (McCurdy) and Cat Valentine (Grande) that evolves into an unexpected friendship. With Cat on the lookout for a new roommate since her grandmother, Nona (Maree Cheatham), took refuge at the local senior community, and Sam drifting after her best friend left their web show to move to Italy, the two wind up living together and running a babysitting service for neighborhood kids. They're often joined in their adventures by Dice (Cameron Ocasio), the apartment complex's well-connected go-to guy.
Is it any good?
Sam & Cat's clever pairing of two previously unrelated characters makes for a unique enough spin-off, but save for the star power of its two poster girls, the show greatly underwhelms. There are few surprises in the pot that plays to familiar qualities like Sam's devil-may-care persona and Cat's gratingly airheaded mannerisms. Instead of creative new avenues for these characters, the show overworks the old, with results that are comical, but also mostly predictable.
That said, the fact that the show recycles popular characters gives it a built-in pool of fans who will want to check out Sam and Cat's new adventures. There's little harm in the light-hearted content, and it's guaranteed to tickle kids' funny bones, but since there's nary a shred of realism to much of what goes on at the hands of these two offbeat characters, it's a good idea to do a reality check with your kids to remind them how similar actions would play out for them.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about this unique spin-off. Do you like that it reuses the characters' personalities from their previous shows, or would it have better served reinventing them for a fresh start? Were you fans of theirs on iCarly and Victorious? How does this show compare to those?
Kids: What aspects of Sam's and Cat's lives are unlikely, given your knowledge of how grown-ups live and work? Do they seem like the kinds of babysitters your parents would hire for you? Why is it fun to watch wacky scenarios like the ones on this show?
What rules does your family have for your media consumption? Why are these rules important? Are some TV shows and movies more worthwhile than others? Which ones are both kid- and parent-approved in your house?