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The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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“Quiet on Set” reveals harsh truth about children’s TV

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

If you’re like me, you grew up on a ton of Nickelodeon TV shows and movies. I would constantly watch shows like “iCarly,” “Victorious” and “Drake and Josh.” If you were born earlier in the 2000s, you might remember shows like “All That,” “The Amanda Show” and “Zoey 101.” Besides being a hit with kids at the time, all of these shows have one thing in common: they were created by Dan Schneider. While everything was fun and bright on our TV screens, it turns out that this was not the case behind the scenes of his shows. The new docuseries, “Quiet on Set” brings to light the harsh reality of what went on behind the scenes of some of your favorite Nickelodeon TV shows.

After working as an actor in the 80’s, Schneider worked as an executive producer on the kids sketch show “All That.” He then left the show after four seasons to start the “Amanda Show” with “All That” alum Amanda Bynes. From there, Schneider’s career only took off, as he created hit after hit and was dubbed Nickelodeon’s “golden boy” in the first episode of “Quiet on Set.”

My experience watching “Quiet on Set” was riveting and perspective-changing. I would like to note that “Quiet on Set,” as well as this article, discusses themes about childhood abuse and sexual assault. If you find these topics triggering, I do not recommend watching the show. If you want to know the full extent of some of these events, I highly recommend watching the docuseries in full to better your understanding, especially if you grew up on these shows like I did. 

Much of the show revolves around how Dan Schneider frequently sexualized children and included inappropriate jokes in his shows. For example, during “Victorious,” Nickelodeon aired a web-series called “Cat’s Random Thoughts,” in which Cat Valentine (played by a teenage Ariana Grande) shares some of her random thoughts to the world. While this seems innocent enough, one clip shows Grande trying to squeeze the juice out of a potato (she even says “come on, give up the juice”), another shows her pouring water onto herself while upside down on her bed (“Is it possible for a teenage girl to drink water upside down?”) and another shows her trying to put her big toe in her mouth. All of these clips were written by Dan Schneider. 

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However, Schneider was not the only controversial figure at Nickelodeon at the time. Enter Brian Peck, a former dialogue coach at Nickelodeon. In one of the series’ most shocking moments, it’s revealed that Peck repeatedly sexually assaulted a child actor: Drake Bell. In the third episode of the show, Bell shares his story publicly for the first time. He details how he met Peck at the beginning of the second season of “The Amanda Show.” Peck worked hard to maintain a friendly reputation among the kids at Nickelodeon, even going so far as to invite them to his home on multiple occasions. As a result, Bell felt comfortable around Peck. One night, he fell asleep on Peck’s couch, and as Bell puts it “I woke up and he was sexually assaulting me.” From there, the abuse worsened and worsened to the point where Bell couldn’t describe it in words. Instead, he said “Why don’t you think of the worst stuff that someone could do to somebody as a sexual assault, and that’ll answer your question.” Peck was later sentenced to 16 months in prison and was ordered to register as a sex offender.

As someone who enjoyed Nickelodeon’s shows as a child, all of this makes me wonder, will I be able to watch them in the same way ever again? Will I ever be able to watch “Victorious” and not think about Schneider sexualizing Ariana Grande? Will I ever be able to watch “iCarly” and not think about the abuse that Jennette McCurdy faced at the hands of Schneider (as outlined in her book “I’m Glad my Mom Died”)? Will I ever be able to think about “Drake and Josh” and not think about the unspeakable abuse that Drake Bell endured? I don’t know. On one hand, part of me wants to still enjoy those shows for what they were, but part of me also wonders if we can do that without supporting an organization that was responsible for the abuse of many children. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend watching “Quiet on Set.”

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Aaron Chin
Aaron Chin, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

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