Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

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The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

“Zoey 101” revival attempts to cater to fans both young and old

4 min read

"Zoey 101" ended in 2008 after 4 seasons | Nickelodeon

By EMMA PARKER

Staff Writer

Through the stress and novelty of college and adulthood, revisiting old childhood shows can be a comforting pastime; it’s a nostalgic reminder of days propped in front of the television with far fewer worries. While many college aged kids remember watching popular Nickelodeon shows from the 2000s like Drake and Josh, iCarly, and Zoey 101, these throwback shows often remain just that: throwbacks. These actors grew up just as we did; these shows were replaced with newer shows and younger actors while we went on to find new interests. Yet every so often these shows get rebooted, as was the case with popular shows like Full House, which was recently rebooted on Netflix under the name Fuller House. And in the case of Nickelodeon, the hit show Zoey 101 recently announced a livestream reunion event. 

Zoey 101 was one of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows from the mid 2000s. Set at the fictional Pacific Coast Academy, a charming boarding school located in Southern California, the lives of students in Zoey 101 were what every young viewer wanted their high school experience to mimic. Each episode featured the everyday life of Zoey Brooks alongside her roommates, friends, and little brother as they navigated through life together as young teens. The show ran from 2005 until 2008 and was ranked by Ranker.com as one of Nickelodeon’s best 2000s shows that defined the decade, and won multiple awards throughout the 2000s. Though talk of a reunion or reboot of the popular show has circulated the internet for years, nothing has been confirmed until now. 

On Sunday, Oct. 18, Jamie Lynn Spears announced a Zoey 101 reunion livestream event, which stars a handful of the show’s original cast as well as a few new members. Matthew Underwood, Erin Zariah and Christopher Massey are just a few of the originals who will be included in the stream in addition to TikTok stars Dixie D’Amelio, Noah Beck, Jojo Siwa and more. The event premiered on October 25th, and was further followed by the release of Spears’ new song’s music video titled “Follow Me (Zoey 101),” which is a reimagined version of the show’s original theme song. 

The “experience,” as it has been dubbed on their website, was advertised as a “one time only global event” that could be streamed for a $20 fee. While both the reunion event and rereleased theme song may lead viewers to believe in a definite reboot of the show, that is still up in the air. 

Spears, who was a young teen herself while filming the show, claims that, “We want to do [the reboot] justice for the fans that were ten and twelve when it first aired, while also bringing in the new generation of fans.” 

The addition of popular TikTok and other social media stars alongside the original cast is a clear attempt to cater to children of a much younger generation; those who likely have never seen Zoey 101, yet follow their favorite TikTok stars’ every move- including to a $20 livestream for a show they’ve never seen. While this attempt may have been successful in bringing in younger viewers to watch the event, many of the young adults that Spears claims to be indulging are not the biggest fans of this. 

Sophomore Alex Wolfhard asked, “Why are TikTokers in everything nowadays? Can Noah Beck even act?” 

While it’s certain that many TikTok stars are claiming spots in the mainstream media nowadays with impressive speed, it remains questionable if this choice will prove beneficial to the show’s popularity in 2020 or not. 

Alongside the controversial addition of TikTok stars to the cast, the event’s $20 ticket price leads to other issues as well. Young adults who are often already pressed for money- not to mention the global pandemic that has been affecting employment for months- are more than likely unwilling to fork over $20 to watch an online stream. This opens yet another question about the event and its success; how much more traction could this reunion have gained if it weren’t for the fee? 

“I think paying twenty dollars to watch a livestream is outrageous,” said sophomore Megan Giglio. “I’ll just go on twitter to see what happened instead of paying to watch it.” 

The event’s website claims that you can now purchase a $5 rewatch link to watch the stream again. 

The Zoey 101 reunion event could’ve been what every young adult had been wishing for since the show ended in 2008. However, the overwhelming response from the Oct. 25 reunion was disappointment at the addition of TikTokers and excitement over seeing the original cast. Revisiting old characters and seeing what they’re up to now is always an interesting concept that’s been done multiple times with popular TV shows in the past, yet it always seems to be received better by audiences when they don’t stray too far from the original concept. 

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