Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy were co-stars on Nickelodeon's short-lived hit show Sam & Cat, a spinoff of their respective hit shows, Victorious and iCarly. When Sam & Cat was placed on hiatus and ultimately canceled after just one season in 2014, fans weren't sure if a rift between the Nickelodeon stars was to blame. Or, perhaps, the rumors swirling about unfair treatment and differences in pay were the culprit. Even now, fans wonder if Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy are still friends, and, despite their relationship being tested by unfortunate life events and a whole lot of unfounded rumors, it seems they are on good terms years after their series ended. Still, they’ve had their ups and downs.
When Grande and McCurdy were filming Sam & Cat in 2013, they seemed like the best of friends. In September of that year, McCurdy's mother passed away and Grande expressed her condolences on Twitter, writing, "Rest in peace Debbie McCurdy one of the most beautiful brightest souls and kindest hearts this world has ever known. I was blessed to know u," and "I love you more than you know always @jennettemccurdy."
But things got complicated in April 2014 when McCurdy skipped Nickelodeon's 2014 Kids' Choice Awards despite being nominated for Favorite TV Actress, claiming the network was not treating her fairly. In a now-deleted tweet, she wrote, "I was put in an uncomfortable, compromising, unfair situation (many of you have guessed what it is) and I had to look out for me. I chose to not go because sticking up for what is right and what is fair is what my mom taught me is ALWAYS the most important thing."
TMZ claimed the unfair treatment was due to McCurdy receiving a much smaller paycheck than Grande, even though she was a title character just like her co-star. At the time, Grande was becoming increasingly popular due to her skyrocketing music career after the August 2013 release of her Billboard No. 1 album Yours Truly, which featured her hit single “The Way.” It was also uncertain whether Sam & Cat would be renewed for a second season after going on hiatus, further spurring the rumors of drama behind the scenes.
However, Grande took to Twitter to shut down the rumors, writing, "Jennette and I agreed upfront that we would be treated equally on this show in all regards (as we should be, considering we each work just as hard as the other on this show). The rumors circulating about our contracts and our salary not being equal are absolutely ridiculous and false… As far as the show goes, I don't know what's happening because I'm not directly involved with the problem but I just wanted to address this one rumor in particular because I am NOT making more money than my costar, nor do I think I should be.”
Sam & Cat was officially canceled in July 2014, but McCurdy made it clear the series’ end had nothing to do with a rumored feud happening behind the scenes. "I just feel that, you know, Ariana and I were and are extremely close and very like-minded in a lot of different ways and then, sorta as the show dissolved, everybody wanted to find some sort of hidden meaning in our relationship," McCurdy said in a March 2015 interview with E! News. The actress added that although she and Grande "butted heads at times,” it was in “a very sisterly way” and nothing serious. “She knows me so well and I know her so well that I think it was unfortunate that things kind of got misconstrued,” McCurdy added.
In that same interview, the iCarly star said she got so close with Grande because they would film up to 16 hours a day together. "I can't imagine a world where you would not come out extreme friends,” McCurdy said of being on the set of Sam & Cat. “I mean I have bonds with both Miranda Cosgrove and Ariana that are impenetrable."
That May, McCurdy told Insider she and Grande texted each other frequently. "She just gave me a book recommendation that I'm almost done with,” McCurdy said of Grande. “And then we text probably like once a week to kind of catch up and see what's going on." At the time, McCurdy even said Grande was excited to see her in her new Netflix movie Between.
When Grande and Pete Davidson got engaged in June 2018, McCurdy had nothing but kind words for the couple, telling Entertainment Tonight she wished Grande and Davidson the best. "I'm super proud of her and excited for her," McCurdy said. "I hope that she's super happy."
McCurdy also admitted that while she thought the relationship "definitely" moved "very fast," she thought Davidson was the perfect match for Grande. "They seem like they're a great fit," she said. "From what I know of her, he seems like exactly a good person for her." McCurdy also said she expected an invitation to the wedding. (Unfortunately, the couple did not end up tying the knot.)
In April 2020, McCurdy spoke to Elite Daily about her mixed feelings about her past on Nickelodeon. Despite feeling like her work on iCarly and Sam & Cat was unfulfilling, she admitted she did walk away with one good thing after seven years on the network: lifelong friendships with her castmates.
"I would not have such an enjoyable life if these people weren't in it," she said. "The human connections you have with people is always what determines whether, ultimately, something is a good or bad experience."
After news came out iCarly was getting a reboot on Paramount+, McCurdy chose not to reprise her role as Sam, sharing it was because she wasn’t proud of the role. “I didn’t like waltzing onto an over-lit, cheesy set and shouting a line. It felt so pointless and shallow,” she said during a March 10 episode of her Empty Inside podcast.
While McCurdy may not look back at her time on Nickelodeon all that fondly, it seems she has nothing but nice memories when thinking about her co-stars. McCurdy and Grande may not talk as much as they did while filming Sam & Cat together, but it appears they’re still friends.
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