We Ranked Every Carly So You Don't Have To
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There are a lot of Carly-s out there. From Carly Patterson to Carly Rae Jepsen, to even me, Carly Tennes, the annoying, albeit really cute, funny, and smart Cracked writer penning this article, it can be hard to not only keep us straight but know where exactly we fall in the broader Carly-verse.
From Carly Simon to iCarly and even The Arbor Day Foundation's short-lived mascot, Carly the Cardinal, I, a fellow Carly, have done you all a favor, ranking every Carly, Karly, and Karlie, so you don't have to. You're welcome.
1. Carly Rae Jepsen - Underrated musical icon
I'll be candid, reader – both Carly Rae Jepsen and Carly Simon beautifully exemplify what it means to be a Carly, both existing as shoo-ins for this ranking's top spot. Yet as this is a comprehensive list, there must be one winner, a title that ultimately will go to the “Run Away With Me” singer. Since bursting onto the scene with her 2012 banger “Call Me Maybe,” a.k.a. the song everyone and I mean everyone was singing nonstop for nearly two years, Jepsen has proven herself to be a pop maven, namely, with her 2015 album, Emotion.
Once dubbed “Pop's Most Underrated Artist” by Billboard magazine, Jepsen has emerged as a dark horse of the genre. Although her songs may not garner as much radio play as her peers, they're outstanding in their own ways, helping her headline festivals, garner an ultra-loyal fanbase – especially among the LGBTQAI+ community – and have her work appear as a RuPaul's Drag Race lip sync staple – a.k.a the true mark of a successful artist. From the bittersweet tune of “Cut To The Feeling” to the music video for “I Really Like You," starring a lovesick, lip-syncing Tom Hanks, Carly Rae Jepsen is quirky, fun, and understands what makes pop, well, pop -- and anyone who disagrees is entitled to their wrong opinion. I'm Carly. This is my Carly ranking. In this one hyper-specific situation, I make the rules. Deal with it.
2. Carly Simon - Diss-track legend
Aside from her long, storied discography and guest-appearance on the greatest episode of Bob's Burgers to ever grace the airwaves – "Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl"-- if there's one thing we can learn from singer Carly Simon it's how to absolutely roast the hell out of your exes. “You're So Vain” is not only a master class in diss tracks – “You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht, Your hat strategically dipped below one eye, Your scarf it was apricot” is a truly savage burn if I've ever heard one – but also petty silence.
Since Simon dropped the record in 1972, she has remained tight-lipped (aside from confessing her ex-boyfriend, actor Warren Beatty inspired the second verse of “You're So Vain” back in 2015) about the tune's genesis. While she has rarely confirmed, Simon has long denied, nixing the notion that her hit single centered around the Rolling Stones's Mick Jagger or singer/ex-husband, James Taylor.
Carly-s: We're all about spiteful self-restraint – and adult animation.
3. Carly Patterson - Olympic gold medalist
Buckle up, we're about to get emotional – or, well, Carl-emotional -- for a minute. From the moment she stepped onto the spring floor at the 2004 Athens Olympics sporting a metric f--kton of hair glitter, Carly Patterson cemented her status as millennial royalty, becoming not only became my hero, but that to pretty much every kid who had ever taken at least one (1) gymnastics class – even if they fell on their face after somehow managing to royally screw up a simple backbend (true story).
From the moment she won the individual all-around gold medal – the first American woman to do so since Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles -- her influence expanded well beyond the under 16 crowds, cementing her status as a national treasure (back in the days when we could actually agree on stuff) and a trailblazer at the forefront of America's long-running Olympic gymnastics dynasty. Over the next decade and change, Patterson passed her torch of Carly-ish success to all of her successors, with an American gymnast taking home the gold in the individual women's all-around competition at every summer Olympics since her successful run.
In other words, Patterson walked, so Nastia Liukin could run, so Gaby Douglas could fly, so Simone Biles, could be Simone Biles the greatest gymnast to ever live, so Suni Lee could soar – and then kick ass on this season of Dancing With The Stars. Carly-s – always setting trends.
4. Carly Chaikin – actress, eyeliner deity
In the early days of the pandemic, I decided to finally bite the bullet, binging a series my friends had hyped up for years – no, not The Sopranos like apparently every other member of my generation according to the New York Times (although that is still on my list) – rather USA Network's highly-acclaimed techno-thriller, Mr. Robot.
Amid the series' plot twists, sporadic Christian Slater appearances, and like, totally 80's surreal sequences, I developed a soft spot for the character of Darlene, a badass hacker with even more badass eyeliner played by actress Carly Chaikin. As I binged the first three seasons in a matter of days (before ultimately putting it down for several months because Mr. Robot's depiction of a dystopian future hit a little too close to home circa March 2020) I was thoroughly impressed by not only Chaikin's acting chops and her character's ability to hack the FBI, but also, the badass, grungy eyeliner she sports in the show.
A year and change later, every time I pick up my eyeliner pencil, I still think WWCCDWDHEFHROMR – “What would Carly Chaikin do while doing her eyeliner for her role on Mr. Robot?" So Carly, if you're reading this, thank you for your service, in acting, makeup, and for bringing smudged, smokey pride to our name.
5. TIE Carly Shay -- the Carly in iCarly/ Carly Tennes – the Carly writing this Carly ranking
Now, reader, I'll level with you Carly to (proverbial) Carly. I am generally not a fan of ties on ranking lists. It often feels like a cop-out for people who cannot make up their minds, especially when the list pertains to an issue as critical as ranking (almost) every person named some iteration of “Carly” by a set of entirely made-up metrics. Yet in the case of pitting Carly Shay – a.k.a the titular heroine of Nickelodeon's beloved late 2000's series iCarly – against myself -- Cracked's resident zoomer and occasional YouTube presence – our uncanny similarities make our battle for fifth place a pretty fair fight, more specifically that fact that we somehow make a living doing the dumbest s--t on the internet.
In Shay's case, her wacky digital hijinks consist of preparing spaghetti tacos, asking the tough questions, a la “What's Gibby Thinking About?” and harassing her doorman Lewbert for the entertainment of her millions of viewers, making her infinitely more successful – and much more of a relic of the early 20-teens -- than me, her aforementioned Carly-counterpart. In my case, I share my opinions on how James Bond should probably use a condom, rank Good Charlotte, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Insane Clown Posse on a D&D alignment chart, and well, whatever I'm doing in this recently unearthed YouTube sketch (for lack of a better term for this monstrosity) from 2009.
On a smaller scale, we both have significantly older brothers who have begrudgingly looked after us throughout our childhood (Shay and her brother are roughly 13 years apart whereas me and my brother are 18 years apart), are “easily grossed out by vermin,” to use a phrase from her iCarly Wiki entry, and look really weird while attempting to angrily say the b-word. Just Carly things!
6. Karley Sciortino – host of Viceland's Slutever, Author of Vogue's “Breathless” column
Everything my girlfriends and I have ever wanted to know about sex has all been gleaned from the works of Karley Sciortino. Back in 2018, I found a paperback copy of her book Slutever, at a local bookstore and was immediately enthralled at her expertise on all things boning-related. for a year and change, my friends and – not much unlike some of the kinks portrayed on her show -- passed around the infinitely annotated copy of her book, delving into her musings on sexuality, love, and open relationships, insight that still comes in handy (no pun intended) to this day.
She may have her cringe moments, as anyone – especially me – does from time to time. It's called having a show on Viceland. Comedian Zack Fox may have a famous monologue about her in which he tells her to “eat a dick” and says he knows “ten strippers who could do that show better than you, you fucking greyhound,” a masterpiece that my ex-boyfriend who only listened to Ska recited at me every time I got on his nerves (which was pretty much every day). The latter may or may not be the reason behind this ranking – what can I say, I'm still bitter about things that happened a year ago. All s----y exes aside, and I aspire to have even a quarter of the talent, insight, and passion (and also fire sex) she's woven into her career as the IRL Carrie Bradshaw.
7. Carly Pearce - Country music singer
Although I had seen several of my very Midwestern former elementary school classmates post cowboy-hat-clad selfies from her concerts over the several years, I had never really looked into Carly Pearce until compiling this ultimate Carly ranking. As such, for all intents and purposes of this list, Carly Pearce will serve as True Carly Neutral.
In full transparency, I generally don't find myself gravitating towards country music too often. Aside from pouring over Dolly Parton's entire discography, my experience listening to the genre is generally limited to listening to a few Kacey Musgraves singles here and there ("Breadwinner" has been stuck in my head for weeks on end, someone please make it stop), and blasting “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” by Luke Bryan on repeat (it's a genre-defying banger, fight me). Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by her emotional, pop-inspired, twangy hits. After all, it's always fun to meet another wine-loving, sad girl Carly.
8. Carly the Cardinal – The National Arbor Day Foundation's former top-hat wearing mascot
The National Arbor Day Foundation's very 1980's mascot, Carly the Cardinal, much like Carly Rae Jepsen, is also a shining example of Carly excellence – bird-exclusive Carly excellence, to be specific. To paraphrase her absolute toe-tapper of a theme song, while she seemingly spends most of her days perching on the branches and living among the trees as Cardinals generally tend to do, Carly takes time from her busy schedule of (probably) eating worms and other random flora and fauna to tell our youth all about why trees are awesome.
“Sometimes people take for granted, ‘bout the best things ever planted! But they should be enchanted, should appreciate their trees," she sings in a commercial spot dating back to approximately the mid ’80's, by some estimates. You tell 'em, Carly!
Despite her ability to spit straight fire about why trees are important and her evident passion for environmental justice, Carly the Cardinal does have one fatal flaw, leading to her eighth-place finish– her massive eyes and irritating singing voice, which sounds freakishly like Morty from Rick and Morty, occasionally take her from “cute mascot” to “top-hat clad avian sleep paralysis demon" in, well, the flap of a bird's wings. We can't win 'em all!
9. Karlie Kloss - International supermodel, once made eye-contract with the concept of “camp"
I've always really wanted to like Karlie Kloss. She may be 6'2 and a supermodel and I may be 5'5 and, well, most definitely not a supermodel, but she and I actually have quite a bit in common. We're both from Chicago, attended NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, or as my dad calls it, "NYU's school of 'pay us enough money and we'll let you study whatever the hell you want,'" are both Jewish, and seem to really love fashion.
Yet due to several factors, I find myself rather torn about Kloss. On one hand, she is – to use Cracked's favorite adjective – mind-bogglingly beautiful, a successful entrepreneur, and was even besties with Taylor Swift (and may or may not have inspired the album, Reputation, if an infamous and painstakingly researched conspiratorial PowerPoint presentation is to be believed). Hell, contrary to popular misconception, her widely-panned 2019 Met Gala look did look camp right in the eye – it may have not been a jaw-dropping show-stopper like, say, Zendaya's Cinderella get-up or Lady Gaga's several part-reveal, but her subdued look was ironic and fun. It may have garnered Twix-bar comparisons, but she's smart. She knew what the hell she was doing, and it took us way too long to catch on to her red-carpet trolling.
Even with this trove of impressive accomplishments, Kloss's relatively low ranking on this list is due to her fair share of controversy over the years. Aside from sporting a Native American headdress back in the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, for which she later apologized (“I am deeply sorry if what I wore during the VS Show offended anyone,” she wrote on Twitter) Kloss is also married to Jared Kushner's brother, Joshua, which isn't necessarily a strike against her, but is definitely a little sus, a fact that was inexplicably broached by a contestant during a viral, highly-cursed Project Runway critique.
Karlie if you're reading this, you're right, that was an ugly f---ing dress.
10. Carly Fiorina – 2016 Republican Presidential candidate
Rounding out our highly-cursed Carly-ranking is former Republican presidential candidate and entrepreneur, Carly Fiorina. Beyond her most obvious flaw of serving as a running mate for Texas' notorious soup-hoarding, poodle-deserting Senator, Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primaries, Fiorina's last-place ranking comes for another truly unforgivable sin – sabotaging her fellow politically-inclined Carly-s by snapping up the domain name carlyforpresident.com during her bid for Commander in Cheif – and seemingly holding it hostage nearly half a decade later.
Fiorina has evidently moved on from her 2016 loss -- her current website is www.carlyfiorina.com, following in the footsteps of most politicians who use their names for their online presence -- but it seems she, or her campaign at least, may still be puppy-guarding the highly-coveted domain name, carlyforpresident.com, the ownership of which is a little murky. The site, which still features Fiorina's branding based on Google's preview, will not open when clicked, but the “.com” isn't available either, according to SquareSpace's domain name search function. Yep, five-plus years after Fiorina dropped out of the 2016 presidential race, carlyforpresident.com remains, perhaps untouched, and indisputably unavailable to other Carlys who want to take a stab at landing in the Oval Office, making history as our nation's first female – and more importantly, first Carly – president.
So Ms. Fiorina on behalf of your fellow Carly-s with presidential aspirations, I implore you – tear down that (domain name)wall. And if not? Well, to paraphrase Zack Fox's comments about Karley Scorintino – “eat a dick, Carly.”