Is Victorious as Good as We Remember?

Does "Victorious" remain victorious in 2019?

Michael Taffe, Technical Director

For kids born in the late 90s and early 2000s, there are certain sounds, pictures, and memories that bring them back to their childhood. A Black Eyed Peas song, a SpongeBob quote, or even one of those silly band bracelets can cause dozens of memories or stories to come tumbling back. Recently, Netflix added Victorious to its list of available content, possibly as a push back from Nickelodeon against Disney’s new streaming service. One of the most iconic shows of Generation Z’s childhood, the question now is whether Victorious still holds up nearly a decade later or if the jokes, music, and commentary are beginning to show their age.

A few months ago, I saw that a full episode of Drake and Josh that had been uploaded on YouTube.  I immediately watched it, but was soon disappointed to find the jokes outdated and the runtime padded with laugh tracks. The acting was sub-par and it felt like a betrayal to high esteem I had held the show in for years.

 I began to watch Victorious the day it came out and was pleasantly surprised. The acting from most of the cast was solid and believable, the songs remain pleasant to listen to, and the story arks are still interesting. But rewatching the show years later and with a greater understanding of what makes a good TV show, there were some let downs.

The first letdown of the show was the over-reliance on Victoria Justice. Because she is the star of the show, there is not a single episode she was not included. Due to this dependence on her, it took until the third season for the backstory of almost any other character to be explained or explored. No matter how liked and remembered they are, many characters still felt unfinished and ignored after the finale.

Another way the show relied to heavily on Victoria Justice was in the show’s songs. Objectively, both Elizabeth Gillies (Jade West) and Ariana Grande (Cat Valentine) have fuller and stronger voices than Victoria Justice. Each time a duet is done with Justice and either Gillies or Grande, you can clearly tell that the volume on Grande’s vocals was purposely turned down to make Victoria Justice stand out.

The most surprising thing from the show to me was the number of adult jokes that were slipped in. In an age where parents are hyper-aware and sensitive to the content their kids are consuming, the jokes that made it through were surprising. In one episode André asked how someone could go from an A to a D. Jade replied, “Happened to me in 8th grade.” While the joke could pass as a commentary on grades, it’s fairly obvious to most adults what was really discussed. In another episode, after attending Prom at a nearby high school, Rex had an undiscussed mark on his neck, suggesting a rowdy afterparty. Finally, in one cold open, Cat buys a fake snow machine and turns it on during lunch. Robbie, not realizing its fake, exclaims about snow and Hollywood. Rex replies that he knew global warming was fake to which Robbie says, “Stop watching Fox News.”

My final complaint after rewatching the show is that too many plotlines were reused. Two whole episodes were dedicated to one character, Robbie, who almost loses his best friend/puppet Rex. In two consecutive episodes during season two (episodes four and five), Tori is given the spotlight in for a play or school event while Jade spends the whole episode trying to sabotage Tori. The plotlines in these episodes felt nearly identical and hurt the overall season. 

Despite some lackluster episodes and a few cringe-worthy moments, I still found the show enjoyable overall. I don’t think it should win any awards, as there was never an episode that blew me away with its writing or cinematography, but there were very few episodes that bored me enough to skip them. Most of the show’s appeal likely comes from nostalgia, but, even so, anyone wanting to relive their childhood won’t be disappointed and may even enjoy being able to understand the more mature side of the show.