It was announced today that the hit children’s cartoon Phineas and Ferb will return for at least another two seasons in a new deal between Disney Branded Television and series creator Dan Povemire (who also voices the series anti-hero Dr. Doofenshmirtz). Just yesterday, it was announced that a Zoey 101 sequel film, Zoey 102, was bought by Paramount+, and will include the majority of its original cast, shooting this time in North Carolina instead of California (the original show was famously shot on Pepperdine University’s campus).
The announcement of the revival of these two iconic Gen Z childhood shows comes after several others were announced in 2022-including an iCarly reboot that also came to Paramount+. Rugrats, another Nickelodeon show, was rebooted in 2021, and renewed for a second season. Raven’s Home, a spinoff of the original That’s So Raven starring Raven Symoné on Disney Channel, was rebooted in 2017, and was renewed for a sixth season to come in 2023.
All of these shows were initially released before social media became a part of daily life for Gen Z–the reboot renaissance begs the question of who relates to these shows anymore. And the answer is that Gen Z is turning to nostalgia amid the tumultuous global and national events of the past three years.
The TikTok Trends
Many Disney and Nickelodeon originals started TikTok trends before they were even rebooted, which speaks to their staying power. The humorous song “Squirrels in My Pants (S.I.M.P)” from Phineas and Ferb sparked a fun dance trend in the fall of 2022 for people of all ages, and a new soundtrack for videos of pets yawning.
Leading up to the show’s renewal, show co-creator Dan Povenmire had amassed a large following of now young adults who grew up watching Phineas and Ferb. His account is full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the show and responds to fans both as himself and the beloved Dr. Doofenshmirtz. One couple even quoted the show in their wedding vows, and of course Povenmire responded.
Others have revisited the show with grown up eyes and realized another layer of comedy, posting clips on TikTok with their commentary. Particularly, fans get a laugh out of Phineas’ oblivion to Isabella’s crush on him.
Most of all, adults now appreciate the offbeat humor combined with the mundane days of an American summer even more.
Phineas and Ferb’s voice actors, Vincent Martella and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, are reportedly returning for the 2022 reboot as well.
iCarly has taken a different route than most other reboots–the show’s return was catered to the audience who grew up watching it, and not necessarily to children. This is likely due to their use of a new production team following the allegations of abuse against Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider. The allegations were put in the spotlight once more after Jeanette McCurdy, who played Sam Puckett on the show, released a personal memoir titled I’m Glad My Mom Died.
The adult approach could also be due to fans discovering some of their now favorite celebrities on the show when they were kids. Model Emily Ratajkowski played Gibby (Noah Munck)’s girlfriend for several episodes, and One Direction famously featured in an episode at the height of their boy band fame.
As for That’s So Raven, the show received praise after scenes about body positivity and antiracism were hailed as ahead of its time when they circulated on TikTok in 2022. Fans of this show have always admired Raven Baxter’s unapologetic individuality and humor, but also the show’s ability to tackle real world issues in a way that related to children and teenagers, which remains steadfast in Raven’s Home.
Outside of the specific shows, Gen Z craves nostalgia for simpler times. Other TikToks about growing up in the 2000’s under the hashtag “nostalgia2000” have reached over 200,000 posts.
The Actors Involved
While plenty of successful actors are returning to these reboots, others find themselves shrouded in controversy. Zoey 101, which originally starred Jamie Lynn Spears and was set in a boarding school called PCA, has also come under fire over Dan Schneider. Actress Alexa Nikolas, who played Zoey’s best friend Nicole Bristow, will not join the reboot film, and has begun protesting it. Nikolas has come forward about not feeling safe during production, and the sexual jokes and innuendos Schneider would include in the show (when the cast were all minors).
Nikolas is one of countless people who have come forward about Schneider. Jamie Lynn Spears famously left the scandal out of her recent memoir, Things I Should Have Said. Spears has found herself embroiled in multiple controversies–the first one involving Zoey 101. Spears’ teen pregnancy is what caused the show to end earlier than anticipated, as the showrunners did not want to write it into the storyline. But years later, her involvement in her sister, pop star Britney Spears’, conservatorship landed her in hot water once again.
As for iCarly, Jeanette McCurdy’s Sam Puckett and her butter sock will not be returning to the reboot because McCurdy has retired from acting altogether. Her memoir details the abuse she suffered at the hands of her late mother, Dan Schneider, and several others that all impacted her choice to leave Hollywood. While her character is mentioned in passing in the show, it is likely she will not be returning to the screen.
Despite the dark side of the industry for some of the child actors involved in the latest reboots, some have found great success since their original projects. Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who voices the reserved Ferb in Phineas and Ferb, went on to star in Maze Runner opposite Dylan O’Brien, had a recurring role in Game of Thrones as Jojen Reed, and more recently appeared in the Queen’s Gambit opposite Anya Taylor Joy. And Vincent Martella, the voice of Phineas, went on to play Patrick in the fourth season of the Walking Dead.
Raven Symoné went on to cohost ABC’s The View from 2015-2016. And, after graduating from the University of Southern California, Miranda Cosgrove now hosts Mission Unstoppable with Miranda Cosgrove on CBS, for which she earned a Daytime Emmy Nomination.
Perhaps what will be the most interesting about the string of reboots coming to screens in 2023 will be that for the first time, many beloved child stars are no longer only viewed as the characters they play, but as multifaceted individuals that viewers can even further relate to.