TV Tournament 1: ICarly vs. Zoey 101 vs. Victorious

Welcome to the first ever TV tournament! Where similar TV shows of similar qualities compete to be the very best! Zoey 101, ICarly, and Victorious are all 2000s Nickelodeon sitcoms that while they had their fair share of flaws still had qualities that embodied the spirit of classic Nickelodeon. What’s interesting though is that some of the flaws that lie within these shows are ones that are covered by the other. This first TV tournament takes a look at various aspects of these shows and how each show ranks among one another in terms of them.

Round 1: Tone

This category takes a look at how each show handles the dramatic moments and the funny moments involved in the episodes: How they go hand in hand with one another, how they don’t, and how they work in the overall ebb and flow of the episode.

3rd Place: ICarly

While the ICarly episodes definitely have a lot of tense and emotional moments among its respective characters and scenarios, there are several occasions where moments are bogged down through some sort of attempt to get a laugh and it just results in them feeling awkward which is even furthered through the obligatory laugh track afterwards. There’s almost no time to let the emotional moments set in before some funny line or visual gag is there afterwards.

2nd place: Victorious

Victorious was also guilty of trying to get a laugh during a dramatic moment quite a few times but to the show’s credit it didn’t distract too much and within a couple of seconds it would always go back to the emotional moment at hand. And the tone allowed the weight of the moment to settle in and appreciate it. And there were times where even though the funny moments were unnecessary, even with the laugh track, it didn’t feel too forced.

1st place: Zoey 101

The lack of a laugh track in this show really helps with the tone in this show. There were moments of drama and comedy in each episode and it was balanced perfectly. The drama in the show was never too tense but the comedy was never too over the top. All of these aforementioned elements allowed the ebb and flow of both to segue smoothly without any of the characters or moments feeling too out of line or forced. While this show isn’t a full-fledged master in either drama or comedy, its ability to perfectly combine both into many moments of the show cancels it out making it the winner of round 1.

Round 2: Romantic relationships

This round takes a look at the couples that took place during the shows’ run. While they haven’t been the centerpieces of any of these shows, they have certainly provided plenty to think about among fans even years after the shows have ended.

3rd place: ICarly

Okay I’m just going to come out and say it so feel free to attack me in any way you please for it: I don’t ship Freddie with either Carly or Sam. Creddie proved to be too one sided and predictable as Carly never returned Freddie’s affections for her. While they did have their moments the two always went back to square one at the end of the day. Sam and Freddie was a way to change things up but outside of their moment in the IKiss episode there wasn’t enough care the two had for one another for a great relationship to bloom. Sam would mostly use Freddie as a punching back physically and verbally and even when they were together they were mostly built on arguments that only Carly was capable of solving and the inability to fully understand one another.

2nd place: Victorious

Victorious had the least amount of couples of these three. Even though there were many popular pairings that the show hinted at (many of which probably would have been had the show run longer) the only official couple in this show was Beck and Jade. These two had a very unique and realistic dynamic unlike anything Nickelodeon had ever shown before. But they definitely had a lot of issues to work out. Jade would often prove to be too jealous and insecure and Beck would often indulge in it. This could be amusing but there were times where they would overstep in these aspects and neither was willing to fully address it. Their relationship is understandable but it definitely wasn’t healthy.

1st place: Zoey 101

This show focused on the romantic relationships more than any of the other two. I’ve delved into them a couple of times before so I’ll try to keep it brief. These relationships took aspects that would otherwise be overly clichéd and added a bit of flavor to them to prevent them from being too hackneyed. There was a definitive evolution in the major relationships of this show that was kept subtle in signifying their natures. And it allowed viewers to get invested in the good and bad parts of them. Even the smallest of moments in these relationships could mean so much, and even though this show didn’t fully utilize continuity, the moments between the couples in this show always left some big impression about their overall nature and allowed us to root for them. Due to all this Zoey 101 picks up another win!

Round 3: Character unit

This round takes a look at all the characters together as a unit. How their overall friendships as a whole group make them truly stand out from the crowd and make them everlasting in classic Nickelodeon.

3rd place: Zoey 101

Even though this show found itself in first place in the first two categories it finds itself in last here. While the unit in this show was by no means bad, it was inconsistent all throughout the series and the characters were mostly stock. Each season we would lose a member and/or gain a new one. And while the overall friendships in this show shared the same levels of enjoyment and humor to them in each season, not every character could fully leave the same everlasting impact on the show. There’s also the fact that with the exception of Chase, the characters that left didn’t do so on the highest of notes, which is disappointing. The consistent members of the show were definitely able to leave everlasting heartfelt and humorous impacts and friendships among one another but the inconsistent members, while enjoyable and funny, weren’t able to have that same level of heart.

2nd place: ICarly

The friendship between Carly, Spencer, Freddie, Sam, and (given the actor became a main eventually) Gibby is one filled with many chapters. Through all the craziness the characters went through, there was always an underlying and endearing care everyone had for one another that flew high and remained at the core of it all. The one problem I had with this friendship is that sometimes Freddie would be used too much as a punching bag (and not just by Sam). And it was really undeserved.

1st place: Victorious

The unit in Victorious is by far the most interesting in that everyone in the group is friends with one another on various levels. This led very interesting pairings among them in each episode which established some well defined relationships whether it be the relationship between Jade and Cat, Tori and Andre, Jade and Andre, Tori and Jade, Robbie and Cat, etc. Each of these pairings carried a level of complexity that allowed for a great deal of interpretation by audiences. The only member that really felt like the odd one out among the group was Trina and the show was quite self-aware of this.

Round 4: Sibling relationships

Each of these three shows involves the main character having a sibling. This round takes a look at the quality of their overall relationship with one another.

3rd place: Victorious

Urgh! I like this show. I really do. But man Tori and Trina’s relationship is not one of the things I like about it. Tori underwent a lot of stressful things for her sister and Trina proved to be nothing more than a pain towards her sister showing no gratitude towards her and constantly thinking she was better than everyone. While they had some heartfelt moments between them that showed the care they shared, those moments are few and far in between.

2nd place: Zoey 101

While Dustin and Zoey didn’t often appear together, the moments they did share showed both the various difficulties they could be to one another but also the love they had for each other at heart. In many of his appearances, Dustin was capable of making bad decisions but never did he seem out of character or whiny as much as the fact that he was just a kid. Both could be difficult on one another but never too irritating. They have a balanced relationship for a balanced show.

1st place: ICarly

In many ways Carly Shay was far more responsible and reasonable than her older brother. But Spencer just had an all around vibrant, loving, and free-spirited personality that he brought into the lives of his sister and her friends for so many years. Even though he could be reckless and odd, at his core he wanted nothing but to bring his sister happiness and always proved to have an endearing and everlasting bond through even the goofiest of moments.

Round 5: Episode line-up

This round takes a look at the overall episodes in the series from the regular ones to the specials and how they made the show well worth watching. The only exclusion to this category is each show’s finale, which will be saved for last.

3rd place: Victorious

I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. Many episodes of Victorious had this really bad habit of just stopping rather than resolving its conflicts. There are some good episodes like Wok Star, The Diddly-bops, and Sleepover at Sikowitz that brought out a lot of great stuff in music and acting but mostly Victorious didn’t really seem to establish anything big in its world that made an impact in future episodes (outside of Beck and Jade breaking up). The show followed continuity but never had much reason for using it. None of its specials were particularly ambitious. Freak the Freak out surprised many with some amazing vocals by Liz and Ariana but both its plots, while good, felt like two different stories rather than ones that came fully together. Locked Up was definitely a lot better bringing the best comedic traits out of every character (shame there wasn’t a sequel). Then there’s Tori goes Platinum which was largely forgettable outside of the scenes with the audition tapes and the Tori and Jade scene towards the end.

2nd place: Zoey 101

Zoey 101 did well in establishing big things in each season opener (and some other subsequent episodes) that made a big impact on each season. But mostly the plots for many of the episodes just felt like a situation of the day. Enjoyable situations mind you, but little actually came into play again. While they could be predictable at times, there was always some sort of tweak in each one to make it engaging. Both its specials and regular episodes were relatively enjoyable in bringing various aspects that fans liked about the story and the characters to the forefront.

1st place: ICarly

This is the longest running show of the three and as a result it is filled with many chapters that are all over the map. ICarly followed continuity the best of the three, bringing back plot threads and characters in surprising but legitimate ways. Even at the show’s worst, its episodes definitely delivered fun in either the main plot or the B-plot and its specials definitely had a scale and stakes to them that the other two shows were lacking in.

Round 6: Humor

Every good sitcom needs humor and these shows definitely aren’t lacking in that department. But which one will be crowned?

3rd place: Zoey 101

Once again the lack of a laugh track really helps with the humor in this show. No attempt to be funny feels too forced or too awkward. Just about every character has a unique sense of humorous character-driven dialogue. The problem is while the show does have plenty to offer in terms of verbal humor, it leaves something to be desired in terms of visual humor. Nothing really that big stands out about it.

2nd place: ICarly

Without a doubt this show is the most memorable of the three in terms of the humor department. But the good thing about it is also the bad thing: It’s weird. You’ve got many everlasting gags with the oddities of Spencer, him setting random things on fire, T-Bo randomly serving food on a stick, Gibby being well…Gibby, Sam’s jerkiness and love for food, Carly politely and happily putting up with the oddities of those around her, and so forth. All these characters bring jokes not only verbally but also visually. And all the actors have dynamite chemistry with one another in bringing out the best of it. However the humor does have its flaws beneath it all: For starters the stuff in the web show went into too weird and too awkward territory with no real sensibility to it. And even the good everlasting gags sometimes can be just awkward funny instead of funny funny. Also with what we know about Schneider’s foot fetish (this show had a lot of odd humor involving feet) some gags are downright disturbing. And as I mentioned in the tone category there are many times where the humor even at its best, is unfocused and the forced laugh track makes it awkward. All of it definitely stands out but it does so in both the right and wrong ways.

1st place: Victorious

All the characters in this show have down the charm and memorability that is to be expected from great Nickelodeon live action shows. There are a couple small factors that put this thing above ICarly. One is that the characters and their respective jokes that have the potential to be terrible are used sparingly in episodes like Cat’s air-headed nature, Jade’s cold hearted one, Robbie’s and Rex’s awkwardness, etc. Two is Sikowitz’s acting exercises. Much like the ICarly web show skits the stuff Sikowitz had his students do are weird and awkward but it brings comedic appeal not only through the scenario but also through the ways he pairs the characters and how they deliver it which is the core of it all. And on top of that there are legitimate reasons for the weird acting exercises. Both the visuals and dialogue synergize well with one another. In my opinion Victorious didn’t need a laugh track to be funny.

Round 7: Performances

This category takes a look at the overall performances the actors gave in each show and how their chemistry made it everlasting.

3rd place: Zoey 101

The cast did do well in bringing a life to what are otherwise stock characters and moments of enjoyment and humanity to a lot of what the characters were involved in. But they are only moments. There are many times where the performances feel slow and stiff and the delivery or expressions are off. It’s understandable what they are going for but there are many occasions where it misses the mark. Rewatching the show, it’s definitely not as good as I remember.

2nd place: Victorious

Just about every actor in this show proves to showcase their talents in acting and singing on various levels. The performances do quite well in bringing dialogue that would only be moderately funny and making it unique. And their talents synergize very well in multiple scenes where the characters sing duets together in ways that definitely cannot be replicated among one another. Even though they have great chemistry in when it comes to singing, there aren’t nearly enough scenes highlighting their chemistry as in the acting category and as a whole unit. There are some scenes like the scene where the mains sing Five Fingers to the Face,the songs in the Locked Up special, and some of Sikowitz’s acting exercises that are great but no big moment highlighting the chemistry of the gang as a whole outside of the music department While there aren’t many moments of great chemistry between everyone when it comes to being a complete unit, the show is great in the chemistry it does offer among the way it separates the characters and when it comes to the songs.

1st place: ICarly

If there’s anything that overshadows the flaws of ICarly it’s the chemistry and performances the actors have with one another and altogether.  They bring such energy and passion to all the quirkiness, comedy, and heart involved that really allows it to have a special place in the hearts of many even at the show’s worst points. It looks like the actors are having so much fun in moments that would otherwise be downright awkward on paper, which gives it such a sense of endearment.

Round 8: Setting

This category takes a look at where each show takes place and how it impacts the quality of the show.

3rd place: ICarly

The Seattle setting in this show has many unique looking locations from Carly and Spencer’s loft, the Groovy Smoothie, the high school, the ICarly studio, and later on Carly’s renovated bedroom. While they are distinct in terms of look in terms of feel there isn’t much difference among them. By no means has a bad setting just nothing about it stands out in comparison to the rest of the show’s good qualities.

2nd place: Victorious

The Hollywood Arts High School has a number of locations to bring a lot of creativity in terms of character interaction, acting, and singing. Sikowitz’s classroom brings about the unique pairings among the mains that make the show interesting in the way the characters are paired and the weirdness of Sikowitz’s acting scenarios. The hallway, the Asphalt Café, and the Vega house allow the characters a place to bring the gang together and allow for some comedic and light-hearted interaction. The black box theatre allows brings out the best in terms of entertainment in movies, plays, and music. Each place serves a different purpose and allows for the characters and actors to showcase different talents.

1st place: Zoey 101

This show definitely has the most interesting setting of the three because of how different it was from most of Schneider’s shows. It was actually shot at a real school and it has some really good quality with the camera work, lighting, etc. It’s also interesting given that the extras were actually students of the real life school. It was actually capable of being shot outside in unique locations rather than be confined to overly designed sets and utilize unique camera angles that really give a sense of artistic creativity.

Round 9: The finale

Much like this article, all good shows have to come to an end. And a good ending for these shows ought to give a loving goodbye to characters, friendships, and relationships we have grown to love over the course of multiple seasons.

3rd place: Victorious

Remember what I said about this round? Yeah the Victorious finale doesn’t represent any of that. This is mainly because it in no way represents the end of the adventures for the students of Hollywood Arts. Over the last three years we watched all these characters showcase many talents in music and acting, seen them form very interesting friendships and possible romances among one another and there is no closure on any of them. It is such a pity to see these great characters go out a low note and the Sam and Cat spin-off didn’t do much if anything to help this but that’s another story altogether.

2nd place: Zoey 101

This was a moderately good ending for a moderately good show. In some respects it gave fans of the show what they wanted to see with good comedy and the peak of the relationships fans had become attached to. Even though it did leave some questions and feels more like a season finale, it’s an okay last episode. It just feels like it could have done with a bit more scenes of maybe the characters discussing the matters this ending brought to the forefront.

1st place: ICarly

This is the only one of these three shows to actually have a definitive ending with Carly’s departure to Italy with her father. And it caps off everything fans liked about the show in a variety of heartfelt ways. There are the moments between Spencer and Sam, Carly and Freddie’s kiss as he packs up the studio, Spencer and Carly’s final moments, and it’s all capped off with the memory of how the whole web show began. All of it is a loving goodbye to not only the show itself but also all of its core aspects and it is what makes the show easily the most everlasting of these three.

Results:

1st Place: ICarly (4 1st places, 2 2nd places, and 3 3rd places)

2nd Place: Zoey 101 (3 1st places, 3 2nd places, and 3 3rd places

3rd Place: Victorious (2 1st places, 4 2nd places, and 2 3rd places)

So ICarly wins overall coming in first in four of the nine categories. Does that mean either of the other two suck? Definitely not. But there are aspects where each show has its shortcomings. Are there any rankings you disagree with? Any ideas for another TV tournament? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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