Former actress-turned-writer Jenette McCurdy fashions the cover of her memoir “I’m Glad My Mom Died” with a half-smile on her face holding a pink urn. McCurdy recalls the childhood abuse she faced at the hands of her mother, Debra McCurdy, and the exploitative nature of Hollywood.
The award-winning star is known for her affiliation with Nickelodeon with her breakthrough role of Sam Puckett in the hit series “iCarly” created by Dan Schneider.
In an interview with ABC News Live, McCurdy said she is “finding celebration through tragedy.” Humor is how McCurdy processes the dark subject matter mixed in with uncomfortable truth in her book.
The tell-all is not just a reflection but displays the perception of her thoughts during childhood and entrance into adulthood.
McCurdy clarifies that the heroine, juvenile delinquent Sam, was far from her personality and that she grew up quite differently. She was homeschooled alongside her three older brothers with Mormon values. She characterized it as “very furrowed browed and stiff,” according to a statement she made on Chicks in the Office.
Thomas Debicella, a counselor at Sacred Heart University, said, “Homeschooling can lead to social isolation and a developmental delay with respect to social skills.” McCurdy’s mother used her daughter’s ignorance of social normality to manage personal aspects of her life, according to her memoir.
To maintain a child-like figure for roles in acting, McCurdy writes that her mother introduced calorie restriction at the age of 11. The diet resulted in anorexia that spiraled into bulimia after the loss of her mother in 2013.
McCurdy left acting after the cancellation of the Netflix show “Between” in 2016 to focus on the mental processing of her journey in the industry and mourn her mother properly.
Therapy brought McCurdy to a place of addressing the complexity of her relationship with her mother and performing, she says in the book.
According to Prof. Sandra Young of the Department of Languages and Literature, “Therapy coupled with writing is one avenue to address the trauma.”
The motivation for McCurdy’s acting career that developed at age six was not her own, she said. McCurdy’s mother pushed performing on her, and the cycle continued out of the need for approval from her mother.
In McCurdy’s teens, she wanted to quit acting, but “iCarly” changed the circumstances. Joining “iCarly” was a career changer as McCurdy went from short guest slots to premiering on an instant hit on Nickelodeon to an audience of 4.1 million viewers.
The expectation of financially supporting a middle-class family living in Orange County, Calif. fell onto 15-year-old McCurdy as she achieved her mother’s dream of fame.
“I somehow feel entitled to my hatred since I was not the one who dreamed of being famous, Mom was,” wrote McCurdy in a chapter of her memoir.
A featured storyline in “iCarly” in which Freddie’s overbearing mother forced them to shower together was a real reflection of McCurdy’s home life. McCurdy’s mother survived breast cancer in 1994 and insisted on performing vaginal and breast exams on McCurdy until the age of 17. The exams extended to the shower where McCurdy’s mother washed her hair.
The relationship between McCurdy and her mother formed a pseudo-marriage from the unhealthy bond, she said. Aggression from McCurdy’s mother was not the only source of abuse in her memoir as she also mentions abuse from “The Creator,” Dan Schneider, one of the founders of “iCarly.”
The sitcom “iCarly” is a show that was pivotal in media for some young tweens in the late 2000s. Adult contemporary humor was added to the script and the set. McCurdy had to grapple with the expectations Schneider had for her while staying in line with her mother.
“The nature of the humor pokes fun at issues that I didn’t see when I was younger. Freddie’s loss of space, Spencer’s forced role as a provider and Sam’s neglect from her mom,” said sophomore Isabella Imperati, a fan of the sitcom growing up.
“I’m Glad My Mom Died” sold out within 24 hours of being available to sale retailers and shot to New York Times Bestseller, reported by Variety.