Editorial, Opinion

‘Quiet on Set’ spoils childhood nostalgia with Nickelodeon’s disturbing history | Editorial

Many of us grew up watching the same television shows: “Drake and Josh,” “iCarly” and “Victorious,” to name a few. Even today, our late-night conversations with friends often lead to collective recollection of the loveable characters, wacky plot lines and nostalgic nature of the entertainment that raised us.

Dan Schneider is a widely familiar name. It flashes on screen under the words “created by” at the beginning of every episode. Schneider is the mind behind several Nickelodeon shows, but in recent years, we’ve come to know his name for more sinister reasons.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

Schneider has been gradually exposed for creating a hostile work environment — and generally being a creep — on the sets of his shows. But this discourse exploded last week when the horrifying docuseries “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” was released.

“Quiet on Set” discusses claims that Schneider and others working at Nickelodeon engaged in inappropriate behavior, particularly towards the women and children in the workplace. The docuseries is incredibly unsettling.

One thing the series placed scrutiny on was the awfully mature jokes that made the air. Actress Alexa Nikolas describes a scene in “Zoey 101” where her co-star Jamie Lynn Spears, then 14, had a “goo-pop” squirted in her face. Nikolas recalled Schneider laughing and a male teenage castmate saying it looked like a sexual act.

Jokes like this went over our heads as kids and are shocking to watch back. So, what audience were they for?

Other oversexualized content includes young actresses wearing bikinis at Schneider’s request, an apparent obsession he has with feet and a disturbing scene from “The Amanda Show” in which a 16-year-old Amanda Bynes interviews Schneider in a hot tub.

One of the most vile, devastating acts uncovered by the docuseries, however, was the sexual abuse of child actor Drake Bell by his acting coach Brian Peck when he was 15. Peck was arrested on 11 sexual assault charges in 2003, but the victim remained unnamed. 

Bell’s story took the internet by storm. He rightfully received an influx of support for coming forward — which he did not get at the time of the trial, when 41 character letters in support of Peck were sent to the judge by several celebrities and executives, including James Marsden, Taran Killam and Rider Strong.

It’s downright evil that Bell was silenced when he was young, but it’s gratifying to see him being validated by fans and apologized to by some of those who wronged him today.

Schneider was an executive producer of “The Amanda Show,” which Bell and Peck were working on at the time.

And yet, after all of this, Schneider was widely considered Nickelodeon’s “golden boy,” and he was even given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Kids’ Choice Awards. That is twisted.

What’s interesting about this docuseries and the horrors it exposes is the conversation we’re able to have about it. This is the first time allegations of this alarming magnitude have been revealed regarding our generation’s childhood.

As a generation living in a post-#MeToo world, we have zero tolerance for cases of sexual misconduct and assault. This is only amplified by the fact that “Quiet on Set” uncovers how this happened to children.

We are also a generation that will talk about this on the internet, continue to call out individuals like Schneider and Peck and hold them accountable. This loud of a conversation may not be possible for allegations on the sets of shows our parents watched.

“Quiet on Set” speaks to the greater record of corruption in Hollywood and in the film and TV industry. 

The conversation around it is just one part of a historic marker in which our generation will begin to hold the film and TV industry accountable. This was seen last year with the Writers Guild of America strike, in which Hollywood writers succeeded in demanding better pay.

It’s disappointing that our childhood nostalgia is muddled, but we hope this continues to be a larger conversation and that inappropriate behavior towards women and children on set continues to be exposed. 

We need to know about what is happening behind the scenes of these shows so that we can hold heinous people and institutions accountable and create a safer environment for women and children in the industry.

This Editorial was written by Opinion Co-Editor Lauren Albano.

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