Courageous Nerd examines Freddie’s lasting impact over the past 15 years.
When we first meet preteen Freddie Benson (Nathan Kress) all those years ago, he is far different from the adult, entrepreneurial version on Paramount+
It’s 2007. The Internet is still growing and Freddie, a tech whiz full of potential, experiences its exponential rise over the next few years. More specifically, he gets to put his skills to good use on the soon-to-be popular iCarly web show.
At the very beginning, Freddie is introduced as Carly’s (Miranda Cosgrove) geeky neighbour, who has a borderline obsessive crush on her. Later episodes also highlight Freddie’s struggles on the dating scene – in a way that Nickelodeon, a children’s network, could depict.
However, by the end of the series, Freddie has kissed and dated both Carly and Sam (Jeanette McCurdy), in addition to other girlfriends.
Alongside Carly and her older brother Spencer (Jerry Trainor), Freddie has a main role in the revival. Set over a decade after the original show ended, Freddie is no longer the young man we last saw in 2012. In fact, the new show highlights Freddie’s experiences in his late 20s – as a father, businessman, boyfriend, friend and, of course, resuming his old role as Tech Producer for the iCarly webshow.
In the original show, Freddie lives with his overprotective single mother Marissa (Mary Scheer) in Seattle’s Bushwell Plaza. Freddie moves back in during the revival. He has close relationships with the Shays, who were also a family of 2.
In particular, Spencer has somewhat of a surrogate ‘big brother-little brother’ relationship with Freddie. In particular, this relationship shines in early episodes such as iWant More Viewers (Season 1, Episode 2) and iFence (Season 1, Episode 22)
By the time of the revival, Freddie and Spencer are regular friends who hang out.
Freddie, Carly & Sam
As mentioned, young Freddie had a huge, very noticeable crush on his neighbour and classmate, Carly Shay. On the flip side, he also had a love-hate (mostly the latter) dynamic with Sam Puckett (Jeanette McCurdy), iCarly‘s co-host.
In some cases, the intensity of Freddie’s crush was played for laughs. You could argue – especially from Freddie’s first appearance – that he initially came off as somewhat stalkerish. However, as Freddie matured and got older, this was de-emphasised.
That being said, Freddie’s relationship with Sam could not have been more different.
In the early days, Sam treated Freddie as a verbal and physical punching bag. These two characters provided much of the show’s slapstick comedy – usually at Freddie’s expense.
However, Freddie and Sam developed feelings for each other late in the series – after previously sharing a kiss in iKiss (Season 2, Episode 10). This leads to a relationship across several episodes, before ultimately breaking up. The characters later reunited – albeit briefly – in a 2014 Sam & Cat episode on Nickelodeon.
Meanwhile, very specific elements defined Freddie as a character early on. Here’s a rough template of Freddie’s character description from the first episodes: He’s tech-savvy, with an overbearing mother, ‘uncool’ interests and opposite dynamics with the iCarly co-hosts.
Of course, such basic details sustain only for a short time. The next step was to dig deeper into Freddie’s character. What made him who he is?
Again, of course, this was a Nickelodeon sitcom. So although Freddie does have character development, his core traits remain intact throughout the series.
In iGo To Japan, we learn that Freddie’s mother Marissa (Mary Scheer) had implanted a chip to track his location. Throughout the series, Freddie also speaks Spanish randomly – for yet-to-be-explained reasons.
As a male teen with an absent father, Freddie’s life featured a strong female presence. For instance, his mother, Carly and Sam. This makes Spencer the only older male role model Freddie had, at least in close proximity.
Freddie & iCarly’s Growth
Was Carly Shay truly the first influencer, at least in the show’s fictional world? If so, Freddie had a huge part to play. His equipment and expertise brought iCarly to their growing weekly audience. Much in the same way as modern YouTube channels.
Without Freddie, the fictitious iCarly web show would not be what it was.
However, as they get to know him, the audience sees Freddie Benson’s positive qualities – such as loyalty and maturity. Also, his willingness to help a friend in need – as depicted in Season 2’s iReunite With Missy.
Even in Season 1’s iWill Date Freddie, he temporarily leaves the web show to join his girlfriend. However, Freddie returns upon realising that Valerie, his girlfriend, has been using him. In addition, Carly and Sam, who tried to warn him, had been right all along.
Although Freddie Benson has his quirks – randomly speaking Spanish being one – he’s ultimately a good kid. He cares for the people around him – his mother, Carly, Spencer, Gibby and even Sam, after a while. Who would’ve thought?
Creddie vs Seddie
As the only male of the central three, Freddie Benson was on both sides of the show’s ‘shipping’ wars.
In other words, he was the ‘reddie’ in Creddie and the ‘eddie’ in Seddie. As the original series catered to kids, any romance couldn’t be too serious. The original iCarly was also a long-running sitcom. Therefore, it made far more sense for Freddie not to end up with either girl in the long term.
Other noted sitcoms such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother follow this “Will They, Won’t They?”
For the most part, Freddie maintains a consistent friendship with Carly and Sam. Nonetheless, fans continued to hope their ‘ship’ would work out.
The Revival (2021-present)
Freddie and Carly kiss in the original series finale, although we learn that this doesn’t go anywhere. Carly living in Italy and their lives going in different directions played a part in that.
In fact, by the time of the revival, Freddie’s had a tumultuous time. He’s twice divorced with failed start-ups under his belt. On the plus side, he has his ‘adopted stepdaughter’ Millicent, played by Jaidyn Triplett.
Much like Sam in the original’s later episodes, Millicent treats Freddie with tough love – being sarcastic and rude, but caring underneath. With Freddie as Millicent’s father, this presents a very interesting dynamic as the show moves along.
Freddie Benson was always very responsible, even in the original show. The creative choice to make him a father evolves Freddie’s maturity even further. Of course, there is also a case of ‘art imitating life’, as Nathan Kress is the father of two young daughters in real life. Much like Freddie’s situation on the show, he is the only core actor to be a parent, as of writing.
The revival covers a huge moment in Freddie’s dating life. For the first time onscreen since Sam, we see Freddie have a serious, ongoing girlfriend.
Pearl Wallace (Mia Serafino), is an animal therapist who appears in the second season. Overall, Pearl recurs in 6 episodes in Season 2, including the season finale. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Serafino previously worked with Miranda Cosgrove on NBC’s Crowded, where they played sisters.
Although some – Pearl included – suspect there could be something between Carly and Freddie – the show wisely avoids showcasing this in each episode. Freddie is an adult in his late 20s; while the relationship could happen down the line, having him worry about a long-ago crush makes no sense.
Almost 15 years after audiences met Freddie Benson, his story continues – albeit with a break in-between…
As characters go, Freddie and Carly are especially interesting. Formerly written for a youth-oriented show, they are now aged up to a more adult-oriented, traditional sitcom.
Freddie is an especially unusual case. He has transformed from a teen on a kid’s show to a parent on the adult-oriented reboot of the same kid’s show. Although this sounds very convoluted, not many characters have that distinction.
As of writing, it has not yet been announced whether the iCarly revival will return for Season 3. If it is renewed, we will see Freddie’s journey continue even further.
It’s hard to believe Freddie Benson’s story started so many years ago with juice, a bagel and a school talent show…