Home USA News I’m Glad My Mom’s Dead offers a fresh take on memoir

I’m Glad My Mom’s Dead offers a fresh take on memoir

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“iCarly” comedian Jennette McCurdy bares all in her debut novel.

Content Warning: This article deals with eating disorders and sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

While broken interpersonal dynamics may be commonplace when it comes to a child star, the camera often fails to capture them. Former Nickelodeon star Janet McCurdy’s new memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Is Dead, reveals the hostile and violent relationship she had with her late mother Debra, who died in 2013 after a second battle with cancer.

Raised in the small suburb of Garden Grove, California, McCurdy grew up in a poor Mormon family consisting of her parents, Debra and Mark, and three older brothers. Her mother, whose own parents discouraged her from becoming an actress, pushed McCurdy into acting at the age of six.

Despite not wanting to pursue acting, McCurdy felt obligated to contain her mother’s emotions. Throughout the memoir, McCurdy writes that Debra showed great pride when she was successful, but also showed emotional aggression whenever the auditions didn’t work out. To gain a sense of control, Debra began reaching out to Hollywood executives in hopes of persuading them to take her daughter in – much to McCurdy’s dismay.

Working her way up the acting circuit, McCurdy began her career as an extra in several television series. Gradually, she got the main roles, first of all in “Malcolm in the Middle”. It wasn’t until 2008 when she landed a role on the hit Nickelodeon show ‘iCarly’ that McCurdy became a household name.

Despite his portrayal of Sam Puckett as a food-loving character, in real life McCurdy’s relationship with food was much different. Her mother carefully monitored her weight with a regimen that consisted of weekly weigh-ins, strict calorie counting, and a diet of shredded low-calorie lunch meats and salad wedges lightly drizzled with dressing. McCurdy blames the development of bulimia, anorexia and overeating on the mother.

Aside from the relationship she had with her mom, McCurdy talks at length about the horrors of being a child star. When “Sam & Kat,” a spinoff of “iCarly” and “Victorious,” in which McCurdy starred alongside future pop star Ariana Grande, was canceled in 2013, McCurdy claims Nickelodeon offered her $300,000 ” hush money” without talking about her networking experience. McCurdy declined the offer, the book says.

She describes several incidents where the “iCarly” producer, known only as “The Creator,” mistreated underage actors on the show. All of these anecdotes had one thing in common: The Creator created a hostile and toxic environment on set. Despite the harsh conditions she worked in, McCurdy also looks back on “iCarly” with some fondness, as she became close friends with her co-stars — especially Miranda Cosgrove.

Of the many heart-wrenching anecdotes, the hardest to read describes Debra watching over McCurdy in the bathroom until he was 17 years old. Janet writes about how Debra performed a “breast and vaginal exam” that left her “body rigid with discomfort.” She writes: “I felt hurt, but I had no voice, no way to express it.” All in all, acknowledging her mom’s toxic tactics, McCurdy admits that her “mother emotionally, physically and mentally abused me in a way that will forever affect me.”

What sets McCurdy’s book apart from other memoirs is the balance between hard truth and dark humor. She doesn’t write about her memoir as a pity-fest, but instead acknowledges with cold honesty the emotions she experienced at the time. Throughout, McCurdy puts in important lines that make the reader question whether or not to laugh. While she looks back on her mother’s abuse with resentment, she also admits that she admired her mother. It took McCurdy years of introspection and reflection to admit the abuse and manipulation she was subjected to because she knew nothing else.

This memoir rejects the idea that childhood stardom is a fun and enviable experience. While viewers see child stars laughing on television and attending red carpets and other glamorous events, child actors often face the traumatic hardships of the industry. “Once you’re a celebrity, you’re no longer a person, you’re an archetype,” McCurdy writes.

As a result of the stress caused by both her mother’s failing health and her acting responsibilities, McCurdy fell victim to the trap that many child stars fall into: finding a sense of self. Behind the scenes, McCurdy struggled not only with eating disorders, but also drug and alcohol addiction, unfulfilled relationships, depression and isolation. McCurdy reflects on the difficulty of overcoming her traumas and ultimately taking control of her own life without her mother present.

When strained family relationships are so common, discussing them shouldn’t be taboo. In accordance with 2020 study, a quarter of American adults are estranged from at least one parent. While families break up for many reasons – death, illness, divorce, differences in beliefs – it’s hard to talk about these struggles because we’ve grown up in a society where elders are supposed to be respected.

We’re now at a time when other former child stars are speaking openly about what they went through behind closed doors, revealing stories of abuse and horror. McCurdy’s book has been at the center of many popular celebrity revelations. From Paris Hilton YouTube documentaryThis is Paris, about her experiences in the troubled teen industry for former Nickelodeon star Alexa Nicholas recent protests outside Nickelodeon headquarters, celebrities are speaking out in droves about their toxic work experiences. For all the trauma she’s been through, McCurdy admits she’ll slowly grow up despite her past.

“Mom didn’t get better,” she writes. “But I will.”

Contact Madeline Kane at [email protected]

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