by Katie Nalle
Former Nickelodeon star Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, titled I’m Glad My Mom Died, was finally released on August 9th, 2022. Most well-known for her roles on iCarly and Sam and Cat, Jennette McCurdy was launched into the acting industry in 1998 when she was only six years old. She states that her mother, Debra McCurdy, was the sole reason for her entrance into the world of child acting. She first started as an extra and commercial actress but received her most well-known role on Nickelodeon’s iCarly at the age of 15. McCurdy explains the difficulties she faced working in a high-pressure environment including substance abuse, eating disorders, and depression.
Before I’m Glad My Mom Died became a book, McCurdy performed a condensed version of the contents as a comedy show in Los Angeles in 2020. She announced she was adapting the show to a memoir in April of 2022. In her memoir, McCurdy dives into her difficult childhood under the spotlight of child acting. She explains the effect her abusive and overbearing mother’s actions had on her life and well-being. McCurdy delves into how she was able to reclaim her life after her mother’s death from breast cancer in 2013. She states that because of her early start in acting, she was taught to view her body as a commodity to be sold to networks. This severely damaged her self-image and led to her developing anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia throughout her early life, starting when she was only 11 years old. An eating disorder recovery is one of the hardest things to endure, especially when you’ve been trained to treat your body as a product, which needs to be kept in a certain shape. Even now, at 30 years old, McCurdy remains in treatment for her eating disorders.
Not only did McCurdy face abuse in her home life from her mother, but she was also subject to verbal abuse by Dan Schneider—a former producer at Nickelodeon. She explains that despite her decade of acting experience with Nickelodeon, she was certain that she would not be picked up for any big acting roles after her time with the company solely due to the reputation of kid’s networks. She was unable to go to college due to her acting career and did not garner any practical skills that would have prepared her for new endeavors if she were to quit acting. She expresses regret over this fact. She describes clearly how flawed the system in place for child stars is and how poorly equipped for adult life many of them, including herself, will end up being.
The book’s cover features a smiling McCurdy holding a bright pink urn. While the book’s somewhat abrasive title and cover may throw off some readers, the feelings she expresses about her mother aren’t wildly uncommon. Many people try to refrain from blaming their parents for hardships they may have experienced during childhood, but sometimes acceptance and healing require finding someone to shift the blame onto, just so that we aren’t blaming ourselves for experiences that are out of our control. This is exactly what McCurdy has accomplished and she explains this process elegantly and candidly in I’m Glad My Mom Died. She confesses that she would not have written the book had her mother still been alive because she would have still felt pressured to keep to the image her mother had set for her. McCurdy hopes that this book will provide comfort to readers who have also lost an abusive parent and will assure them that it’s okay to feel all of the complicated feelings that come along with that loss.
McCurdy stresses the importance of finding the good in difficult times and allowing ourselves to laugh and not take things too seriously. She writes that letting herself feel happy or relieved in these times is what allowed her to take back her power and begin moving on. Having viewed her mother as a dictator in her life, she lives freely now as she tries to heal from the trauma she experienced as a child and young adult.
McCurdy now makes a living as a podcaster, writer, and director. Aside from her memoir, she can be found hosting “Empty Inside,” a podcast where she interviews guests and opens up further about some of the same tough topics she tackles in her memoir.