The promise of fame can make people do crazy and, dare I say, self-destructive things. Some people record themselves jumping off rooftops into trash cans and then post the ensuing mess on YouTube. Others shamelessly strip off their shirts and mug for the camera at wintry sporting events. And still others willingly and without evidence of duress sign up to appear in Nickelodeon's Victorious—perhaps even after reading a script.
The show revolves around the exploits of aspiring singer Tori Vega and her wacky collection of Hollywood Arts High School friends. They represent a collection of stereotypes befitting a tween-oriented sitcom: daffy Cat, hunky Beck, cool dude Andre, goth-serious Jade, geeky Robbie. You get the idea. It's high school as adults well past graduation would like to idealize it—a place where everyone hangs out and no one gets punched in the nose during passing period.
Perhaps Tori and her buds all get along because they share a common goal: They all want to be famous. And not just 15-minutes famous, either. No, they want careers that begin in Hollywood, end in Branson, and accumulate all sorts of awards, beach houses and unflattering tabloid covers in between.
"If there is anything I've learned about kids today—and I'm not saying this is good or bad—it's that they all want to be stars," Dan Schneider, creator of Victorious and iCarly, told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice if more of them wanted to be teachers and social workers; it would be. But at least in Victorious, you see a world where they're all working on the talent part."
These kids are nice. They're just not exactly on a quest to make themselves—or their audience—better. They baby-sit their neighbors' dogs. They humor their ditzy relatives. They steer well clear of drugs, premarital sex and harsh profanity. But they proffer few lessons for fans to chew on and give few examples of how to really behave. They holler and jokingly threaten violence against one another. They sass. They pout. They look pretty doing it.
This is a show in which bombast triumphs over all things intelligent, where groaners replace real laughs. But it's High School Musical territory, not Jersey Shore, and for that, parents can be grateful.
But we can't end there.
"Whatever happened to getting famous by having some talent?" Tori asks Trina.
"Talent has nothing to do with being famous," Trina shoots right back.
And neither does a lack of badness equal goodness.
"Ice Cream for Ke$ha"
Trina holds Tori to a promise she made at the age of 6: Mainly, that if she hadn't married a handsome prince by 16 she'd be her sister's slave for a month. How did Tori communicate all that in crayon scribblings? We're not sure, but for reasons that could only ring true in a Nick sitcom, the sis feels committed to the pledge. And Trina makes her jump through lots of goofy wipe-my-nose hoops.
Then the frazzled Tori comes up with a plan. If she can win an ice cream company contest and gain a personal performance from Ke$ha (who happens to be Trina's favorite musical artist) she can get her slave-driving sis off her back. So Tori and the gang set off on an ice cream scooping and eating quest.
Questionable jokes range from a teen being beaten by a park-full of mothers to another mom lacing her son's ice cream with meds. "Dang it" and a handful of "oh my gods" sprinkle the dialogue. Most significantly, the episode idolizes the cleavage-baring Ke$ha—a singer best known for her hard-partying lyrics and a wild-girl persona. Moms of tweens who have their musical interests piqued should beware.
"Wi-Fi in the Sky"
When Tori and Trina's cross-country plane trip is delayed, Tori, at 30,000 feet, organizes a video conference with her classmates to write a script due the next day. Alas, her friends aren't much help. Andre has to pull his scared grandmother out from under the bed after she freaks out over the numbers on her digital clock changing. Beck gets distracted by his girlfriend jealously storming over when she learns that he's dog-sitting for a cheerleader (who turns out to be 9). Meanwhile, Trina runs into notorious celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and steals his camera.
The episode is filled with misbehaving children (one repeatedly kicks Trina's seat, insults her and then tells Tori that she and her sister are "hot"), disengaged parents (when Trina asks the boy's father to intervene, the dad mostly just shrugs his shoulders), a wrestling match between Trina and Perez Hilton, and lots of mindless yelling. Characters misuse God's name twice, say "chiz" (which appears to be a stand-in for another stand-in for the s-word), giggle over a girl's backside and announce to one another that they're going to go "waz."