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Proof that "Sam and Cat" is an Allegory of the Record Industry





"Sam and Cat" is a goofy sitcom aimed at tweens and young teens that airs on Nickelodean.  It stars Jennette McCurdy (the blonde co-star from iCarly) and Ariana Grande (that talented pop singer).

After watching 3 episodes I noticed what I believe is evidence of allegory.    This analysis is just one of those "thinking too much late at night" things, but I think it's fun to think about, and maybe this is what the show's writers were going for.  This post is simply my opinion and is presented for fun. 

My basic theory is that while Sam seems to be the main character, Cat is the one this world really revolves around.

I believe that even though Ariana Grande is playing Cat, a fictional character, she is really there to represent young recording artists in general and her real self in particular.  The other major characters in this episode are there representing the following:

Sam = Cat's (a.k.a. Ariana's) Agent
Dice = Cat's (a.k.a. Ariana's) Accountant
Goomer = Cat's (a.k.a. Ariana's) Bodyguard
Vance = Cat's  (a.k.a. Ariana's) Lawyer


It makes sense that Sam, as an agent, does most of the talking and is also the one to power the show from point A to point Z throughout each episode.  

Cat is generally happy, and even when she becomes upset, she doesn't freak out or overreact, because she knows she has an armada of representation to do the thinking for her.  She's meant to be perceived as kind of an airhead.

My theory is, Cat is acting this way because that is what the mainstream Recording Industry demands of their Pop Stars.  They don't want some polarizing intellectual as their flagship artist.  The mainstream Recording Industry doesn't want to make people think too much.  They want a photogenic artist who will deliver simple, enjoyable, archetypal messages about young love while selling millions of albums / song downloads. 




The Episode in Question

#StuckInABox

Yes all the show's episode titles are hashtags.  Diabolical right?  I don't know how much the show's target audience actually tweets, but it's a good marketing ploy in theory.

This episode begins with Cat pedaling a pretty pink bicycle that is suspended from Sam and Cat's living room ceiling.  Cat is really enjoying this.  This represents a paradox of the traditional recording industry: a Pop Star gets to enjoy the ride while they experience this amazing new found fame, but like Cat in this scene, they are spinning their wheels.  Because of the 1 sided contracts that are typical for new pop acts (think N'Sync and TLC) it will take a mountain of sales before the artist herself actually starts making solid money from her work, if she ever does. 




Then Dice (accountant) shows up and asks Sam and Cat to participate in a magic trick he's attempting.  Dice will lock someone in his "magic" box and then they will magically disappear.  He even notes that there are only about a dozen such boxes in the world.   

The box represents 2 things: The trappings of fame, and, more specifically, the box and the magic trick represent Dice offering to invest the pop star's money for her.  The scarcity of the box represents how rare a truly great investment is.




Now even more specifically, the box could represent either an illegal tax shelter that will protect Ariana Grande's money and make it "disappear" from the IRS, or the box could represent the fact that Dice will "invest" Ariana's money by embezzling it, thus making it "disappear" from her, much like Billy Joel's old accountant swindled him. 

Cat volunteers for the magic trick and predictably the box gets stuck, trapping her inside.  This represents the idea that the investments Dice made for his pop star client didn't work out for her, and now she's the one in a jam.  She is paying the price for trusting her accountant so blindly. 

Sam (agent) and Goomer (bodyguard) try to get Cat out of the box, but none of their methods do the trick.  In fact Goomer manages to accidentally break the box's handle off when trying to open it, representing the idea that a pop star's bodyguard can sometimes make things worse instead of safer, by using too much force. When they shove a paparazzi cameraman to the ground etc., the pop star gets in legal trouble.






This is especially bad because now Cat might have to miss the group's trip to Mystic Mountain.  This amusement park they have tickets for represents that truly breakthrough moment in a pop star's career when they get out of that first 1 sided contract, their "rookie contract" if you will, and start making serious money.  Think Justin Timberlake after N'Sync.

Sam (agent), in her typical callous fashion, does not seem overly worried about Cat, even though, realistically, if Cat was really locked in such a box, she would suffocate to death before long.  Sam's selfish, uncaring attitude has always been the same, going back to her iCarly days, and here, as she allegorically represents Ariana Grande's agent, it makes total sense; Sam the agent is a jaded veteran of Record Industry negotiations.  Nothing fazes her.  If Cat dies in this box, if Ariana Grande can't escape the trappings of fame, Sam will just find another client and move on.

Later Sam feeds Cat juice and one egg through a straw that they manage to fit through a small hole in the box.  The tiny amount of sustenance Cat can ingest while in the box represents the battles with anorexia that female celebrities have endured over the years as they try to look good for the cameras.  Cat is grossed out when she drinks the egg, even though she just said, "Yeah I love eggs." a few seconds before, when asked.  This represents a female pop star who is learning to hate eating. 

In an interesting twist there is a scene where Goomer (bodyguard) actually shifts for a moment, and comes to represent a photographer.

Goomer and Dice come to visit Sam and Cat at their house, and Goomer announces that he has brought a picture of Cat to put on the box, so talking to her through the box will seem less weird.

Cat thinks he has brought a photograph of her, but Goomer says  "Better.  I drew one."  He then tapes the hand drawn picture on the box.

This represents a magazine photographer photoshopping a picture of an already good looking pop star to make them look (in his mind) even better.

Cat considers a photograph of her real self to be preferable, while the industry considers a doctored picture of her to be "better."

Eventually Dice (accountant) realizes that he has to ask this other local magician for help.  So Vance, the magician, allegorically represents a lawyer in this situation.  He will try to get the pop star out of the tax / financial troubles that Dice got her in.

Vance has a lot of contempt for Dice's lack of skill as a magician, while at the same time Vance has the hots for Sam even though she rebuffs him.  The fact that Vance still tries to get the box open despite this, represents the fact that some lawyers would be willing to do anything for money, regardless of the way they feel about their clients.  




  

Anywho, Vance believes he can open the box easily, but it turns out he can't, and Cat is still stuck in this box even though she'd be dead by now.  Approximately 30 hours have passed since she got in.  The very fact that Cat somehow stays alive all this time represents two things, just as the box itself represents two things.

Cat staying alive represents:  

1.) The fact that Ariana Grande can survive and carry on despite the tremendous, seemingly inhumane pressure to perform that is placed on her shoulders. 

2.) The fact that even when you are in hot water with the IRS, you can evade them and block their efforts to collect for a long time, especially if you have good lawyers. 

So Cat lives even though you'd think this would kill her, just like Ariana Grande lives even though you'd think dealing with all the trappings of fame would inevitably destroy a person.

Cat's very name (think 9 lives) represents the idea that a pop star must continually re-invent themselves and begin anew to survive in the industry.  Like Madonna.

After Vance fails to open the box and things look bleak, Cat reminds Sam (agent) that, "Sam you promised me that no matter what I could go to Mystic Mountain tonight and ride the roller coasters."

Here the pop star is reminding her agent that she has a contract to honor.  The agent must deliver on her promise to get her client to the big time no matter what. 

So, amazingly, the episode is coming to a close as Sam, Dice, Goomer and Cat drive to Mystic Mountain.  Cat is still in the box.

The car ride itself represents this idea; Despite their client's troubles (the trappings of fame / financial issues) the group will still try to make things work and get Cat to the top of the Recording Industry.  The characters' dialogue in this last scene tells us that they are going to try to get Cat on the roller coasters despite the fact that she's in a big metal box.      

The car ends up hitting a bump in the road and the box is ejected and lands in the street.  The car keeps going.  The fact that Cat's friends just keep on going without her represents the idea that the Recording Industry will drop a young pop star once they become more trouble than they're worth.  Sam and the gang will find another client to make money off of, but Cat a.k.a. Ariana Grande never makes it to the level of the industry where she can make truly big dollars, the way artists like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé have.    

So Cat is left out in the street.  "Are we almost there?" she asks.

I haven't seen every episode of the show, just 3 so far, so I don't know if they ever address how the hell Cat finally got out of the box.

In Conclusion: If someone gets stuck in a box, or anywhere else, call the Fire Department.  They would have had Cat out in like 10 minutes.  Nickelodean has definitely been guilty of providing terrible role models for kids in recent years.  Sam is practically a psychopath, literally, by definition, and recent Nickelodean characters in general don't seem to have any genuine concern for anyone but themselves.  

The fact that these kids get their friend locked in a freaking death trap box and then proceed to hardly give a damn really bothered me.  Kids used to (and sometimes still do) die in refrigerators when they were playing and got locked inside by accident.  I do not believe that media should censor itself (I mean hell, I'm a novelist) and no one should be looking up to Nick characters for guidance, but, still.  The episode creates the illusion that this situation is funny instead of lethal.   




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I've written 4 books and the first chapter from my debut novel is on the homepage.       

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