The behind-the-scenes drama of children’s television is the cut-throat stuff of legend, full of chess moves that make Cersei Lannister look like Mr. Rodgers. While Disney Channel stars like Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato often get the most attention in this department, the young stars behind Nickelodeon’s greatest hits were certainly not exempt from throwing stones and starting feuds behind the scenes.
Although Ariana Grande has stayed close friends with Victorious co-star Liz Gillies and tapped Daniella Monet and Matt Bennett to appear alongside them in her “Thank U, Next” music video, it seems that her relationships with some of her other co-stars has soured. Grande and Victoria Justice’s mutual distaste for each other is one of television’s worst kept secrets, elevating to memetic levels long after Victorious ended.
And Justice wasn’t the only co-star who ended up on Grande’s bad side. Jennette McCurdy, Grande’s co-star on the Victorious-slash-iCarly spinoff Sam and Cat, certainly did not leave Nickelodeon on the best terms with the petite popstar.
Ariana Grande's team reportedly didn't like Jennette McCurdy's image
As was the case with most teenagers and young adults in the 2010s, much of the drama between Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy played out unfiltered on social media. It’s worth noting that in the time between Victorious wrapping and Sam and Cat beginning, Grande’s career had made a considerable leap. The singer had already recoreder her first full-length album and notched her first top-ten hit, “The Way,” by the time Sam and Cat premiered in June 2013, a feat that was practically unheard of on the Nickelodeon side of children’s entertainment.
McCurdy’s image was maturing, too, albeit in a much different way than Grande’s. The first sign of trouble between the co-stars came in November 2013, when the gossip column Crazy Days and Nights ran a blind item claiming that Grande’s team was upset that McCurdy had been “getting drunk and hitting strip clubs.” Not wanting anything to dent the momentum of Grande’s career, the column noted that Grande’s team reportedly “want[ed] the co-star removed from their mutual show in favor of someone more clean cut. Either that or they are going to walk.”
Of course, gossip like this is near-impossible to verify, but McCurdy’s public image was changing in ways both unfair and pretty out of her control. According to the Daily Mail, in March 2014, racy pictures of McCurdy leaked online. Per the outlet, Grande attended the Kid’s Choice Awards the next month, while McCurdy was noticeably absent.
Was the feud all about money?
Just days after the 2014 Kids Choice Awards — when Ariana Grande won Favorite TV Actress over Jenette McCurdy — TMZ reported that McCurdy had skipped the awards not because of the photo scandal (as many assumed), but because “Grande [made] WAY MORE money than her and she'[d] been trying to renegotiate her deal.” Grande quickly took to Facebook to deny the rumor, writing, “I am NOT making more money than my costar, nor do I think I should be…. I am, have always been and always will be about equality and fairness.”
About two months later, McCurdy posted a long missive on TwitLonger that was widely interpreted as a shot at Grande. McCurdy told the story of someone she was on-again, off-again friends with, but declared that she was officially done being friends with this person. “We aren’t better friends because being friends with you takes the ‘better’ out of me. In fact, I might possibly be the worst version of myself when I’m around you,” she wrote. “So for these sincere reasons, I am officially dropping you as a friend.”
A few weeks after that, Sam and Cat was canceled after just one season. The official reason given by The Hollywood Reporter at the time was “behind-the-scenes conflicts,” which is almost never a good sign.
Jenette McCurdy took shots at Ariana Grande in her next project
After the show ended, Ariana Grande continued with her music career, while Jennette McCurdy moved on to other projects. One of these was a webseries called What’s Next For Sarah?, which followed McCurdy as a former child star trying to figure out what to do next. Topical! The third episode of the series featured a character named Gloriana, a thinly veiled mockery of her former castmate complete with a high pony and a whistle register. McCurdy then joked about Gloriana on Twitter with Perez Hilton, who wrote, “Can I be in an upcoming episode? I can be #Gloriana’s obnoxious gay brother!” Yikes.
Things got really messy after some person on the world wide web photoshopped a fake tweet that seemed to show Grande saying she couldn’t see McCurdy’s and Hilton’s tweets from “up here in the charts.” Though that tweet was fake, McCurdy thought it was real and responded, “you clearly could because you responded directly to a conversation you weren’t tagged in. #byeforever.”
That was in 2014, and although they both seemed to move on to other things, McCurdy did appear in a video (via MTV News) jamming to Grande’s hit “Into You” in 2016. Hatchet buried? Maybe. But at the very least, they both seemed to have moved on.