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The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

We’re All Queasy Over ‘Quiet on Set’

Photo From Variety.
Photo From Variety.

On March 17, 2024, HBO Max released an eye-opening docuseries, revealing the disturbing truth behind the making of Nickelodeon’s most iconic early 2000s TV shows.  

Quiet on Set depicts what life was really like on the set of shows like Drake and Josh, iCarly, Sam and Cat, and Victorious, all produced by infamous showrunner Dan Schneider. Schneider is the creator of over ten wildly popular child/teen television shows and was the recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Kids Choice Awards.

The docuseries tells stories from the perspectives of child actors, parents, and employees who all agree with one thing: Dan Schneider fostered verbally, emotionally, and sexually abusive work environments throughout the entirety of his career. 

Testimonies of child stars, including Zoey101’s Alexa Nikolas, The Amanda Show’s Giovonnie Samuels, and All That’s Kyle Sullivan, all correlate. Each claim that Schneider had frequent mood swings, was verbally manipulative, and continuously put the actors in compromising positions. The actors reveal that child labor laws were regularly ignored and that they were repeatedly asked to perform dangerous, uncomfortable stunts in order to keep their positions on the shows. An example of such an occurrence was when the actors were asked to cover their bodies from head to toe in peanut butter, lay down on the floor, and allow dogs that were released onto the stage to lick them.

The mistreatment was extended to his crew. Two former female writers of the shows describe instances where Schneider asked them to massage his back and mimic sexual acts for his amusement while he threatened their jobs and reputations. He also illegally paid both women the equivalent of one worker’s wage. Another member of the editing team on the set of All That reports having to be hospitalized after working for at least twelve hours without eating or restroom breaks.

One might argue Schneider’s most disturbing offense, though, was the intentional adult humor sprinkled throughout the content of the majority of his shows. One only has to rewatch a few episodes of Zoey101 or Sam and Cat to notice the suggestive physical and verbal humor written for the underage actors. Examples of this exploitation mentioned in the documentary include Victorious’s Ariana Grande pouring water on herself while laying upside down on a chair, a liquid being squirted onto Zoey 101’s Jamie Lynn Spears’ face, and the general odd fixation on pickles and feet. 

It gets even worse. While onlookers only speculated Schneider’s grooming of underage actresses like The Amanda Show’s Amanda Bynes, three of the showrunner’s crewmen were convicted pedophiles. 

Brian Peck, Jason Handy, and Ezel Channel were all arrested and convicted while working for Nickelodeon.

Drake and Josh star Drake Bell joined the documentary in its third episode, emotionally recalling the several years of sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of Peck.

After watching Quiet on Set, many questions arise. Why did countless adults on these TV sets turn a blind eye to nearly two decades worth of abuse? Why was Brian Peck hired by Disney after serving time and being registered as a child sex offender? How have the sexual innuendos embedded into these shows affected the children around the world who watched them during their most formative years? 

Former Nickelodeon actors who were uninvolved in the documentary are taking to social media to support those who shared their stories. Additionally, the television network Investigation Discovery released a fifth installment of the series on April 7th, following up with former child stars.

As somebody who grew up watching several Nickelodeon TV shows, I am incredibly disgusted by the information reported in this docuseries. I am terrified to discover that I have been unknowingly consuming sexually suggestive content since the time I was eight years old. I am heartbroken to hear about the dozens of crewmen and underage cast members who were subject to such calculated physical and emotional abuse. Most of all, I am angered to learn that the misconduct of powerful people like Dan Schneider and Bryan Peck has been received so lightly by fellow employees and members of Hollywood. 

My hope is that Quiet on Set is the first of many whistleblowing investigations to shed light on the evils of Hollywood. Exposing these devastating truths is the first step in serving justice and preventing future tragedy. 

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