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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

The latest now in our series on fractured culture. Today, a cable TV show that's very popular with one group of Americans but completely unknown by just about everybody else. It's called "iCarly," and it's on Nickelodeon.

Never heard of it? Well, an episode of "iCarly" was one of the top 20 cable telecasts of the year in 2010.

As NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, if you do know "iCarly," there's a reason.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Roaming the mall at Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia, it took me a while to find some "iCarly" fans.

Unidentified Woman #1: I've never heard of it.

Unidentified Woman #2: "iCarly"?

Unidentified Man #1: What was that?

BLAIR: Do you know "iCarly"?

Unidentified Man #2: No.

BLAIR: And then I scored.

Mr. HECTOR JIMINEZ: My five-year-old niece is obsessed with "iCarly," so she loves it.

BLAIR: The adults I talked to who do know "iCarly" were like 29-year-old Hector Jiminez from D.C. They spend time with kids.

And how about you?

Mr. JIMENEZ: I actually could get into it, yeah. They're constantly laughing, you know, with the different scenarios that they play.

BLAIR: "iCarly" is a sitcom about some young teenagers. Carly and her friend Sam have their own goofy Web show.

(Soundbite of television program, "iCarly")

Unidentified Woman #3 (Actor): (As character) (Unintelligible).

Unidentified Woman #4 (Actor): (As character) Hey Carly and Sam, what's the proper way to cook a pickle with a blowtorch?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #5 (Actor): (As character) Excellent question.

Ms. DAN SCHNEIDER (Executive Producer, "iCarly"): If you don't have any kids in your life, there is chance you don't know show or haven't even heard of it.

BLAIR: Dan Schneider is "iCarly's" executive producer. He's worked with the 'tween audience for years. He created "Drake & Josh" and "Zoey 101." Nickelodeon's target audience ranges from as young as six to 14. But Schneider says he tailors "iCarly" to older kids.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: I felt like if I'm getting 13, 14, 15 and 16-year-olds, then the younger kids are just going to come along for the ride because they're going to want to do what their big sisters and brothers are doing.

BLAIR: Boys and girls alike watch "iCarly." According to Nielsen, boys are about 45 percent of its audience. The male characters might explain its popularity with boys. Spencer is Carly's off-the-wall older brother.

(Soundbite of television program, "iCarly")

Mr. JERRY TRAINOR (Actor): (As character) Will you get the milk?

Unidentified Woman #6 (Actor): (As character) Yeah, sure.

Mr. TRAINOR: (As character) It's not in the fridge.

Unidentified Woman #6: (As character) You promised you'd stop drinking milk in the shower.

Mr. TRAINOR: (As character) Stop trying to change me.

BLAIR: Spencer is also Carly's guardian. The parents are gone. In fact, you don't see grown-ups much on the show. In the same way Dan Schneider doesn't play down to young children, he also isn't playing to adults.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: I have definitely avoided the parents in my shows. And I avoid adults as - let's put it this way - I don't bring adults onto the show and have them be a drag because I want kids to love the shows. And the thing is, my shows are about kids, and they're about kids winning and about kids taking power over their lives and doing cool, fun things.

BLAIR: And by appealing to kids, the parents often go along for the ride, too, making "iCarly" a show that reaches a larger fracture than a lot of what you see on TV.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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