Here at Gawker, we don't do much celebrating. It's always "Joe Morgenstern is a lazy piggy" or "Man, whoever made this slideshow on the T website is so lame." Never a kind word to be heard around here—see below, generally speaking—the posts never not poker-faced and always possibly reactionary to the point where it might be considered harmful.
But what if we read something we really like one day? What if we read an article in The New York Times Magazine and enjoyed every word? Possibly even admired the grace of the pacing and the narrative framing? What if the article was about tween after-school television, and how it's super-interesting? Get ready for a long post, fuckers—a long post that is joyous but totally unlike anything you would find at Gothamist.
The piece we're talking about is by Jonathan Dee (pictured), a novelist who has written for the magazine about the airline Song and the rappers OutKast. It begins in a casting studio at the Times Square offices of Nickelodeon, where a gaggle of 14-year-old nervous girls are trying out for nothing in particular. The network, meanwhile, has just signed a 13-episode deal for a show that has no concept, no script, no cast, and no pilot. Dee thinks that's pretty strange, considering Nickelodeon is owned by the anals at Viacom, and it is! Their secret weapon, it turns out—the reason the execs were so eager to sign on for a non-existent project—is a large man named Dan Schneider, the Alan Sorkin of tween TV who can turn out hit shows by the precise, devastating force of his instinct.
Dee makes this guy Dan sound like a hero and a genius. The key to his success is that in his playbook, Kids Always Win. They're smarter than the adults, they know more rather than less, and they are the ones doing all the cool things. If you think about it, this is totally true. Dee's insight here is that tween television—think Even Stevens, The Amanda Show, etc.—is actually really traditional and nostalgic for an old, bygone era in broadcasting. The difference is, because the 8-9 p.m "family television hour" doesn't really exist anymore and kids are watching TV by themselves, the shows function as this fantasy of secret liberation where kids rule and adults drool. This is also true; Dee is on a roll and no, dang, we're not messing around.
Anyway, on with the story. After a while, Dan Schneider comes up with a concept that is more innovative than any other modern thing. The show is called "iCarly," and it's about two girls who make a video that winds up an accidental hit on the web. They seize the opportunity, and start their own internet TV show where they make fun of their parents and schoolteachers! Naturally, Dee reports, there will be an iCarly website where fans can upload their webcam videos, some of which will then be used on the show itself "as part of Carly's fictional Webcast." Nickelodeon may have come up with it, but in the delivery, Dee is not not Borgesian here—things don't just turn out like this by accident.
Listen, just read the story—available on newsstands tomorrow and online later today, probably—it's full of great kid quotes and insights of the sort the Times Magazine was built to print. At one point Schneider tells Dee that the reason he laughs after every joke during taping, even if he's heard it six times before, is so that the kids know to wait long enough between their lines. This is what articles should be, and we're not too embarrassed to say it. No byline on this, boss; consider it a Gawker Weekend editorial.