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High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

“All is Quiet” on the Other Side

The new documentary on the abuse which happened behind the scenes of many popular Nickelodeon programs is enlightening to fans.

“The abuse was pretty extensive and it got pretty brutal. I don’t know how else to elaborate on that on camera. Here’s what I want you to do, 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,” Drake Bell shared for the first time in the four-part docuseries, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. 

Having grown up in the 2010s era, Nickelodeon shows were foundational to my childhood. That being said, I knew a part of that joy would have to be sacrificed while watching the dark and twisted realities that transpired while making many of the hit shows we know today. 

Nickelodeon forged its own “golden age” with its increasing popularity and iconic shows that aired between the late 90s and the early 2000s. The fame, the success, and the shows we know and love today are most commonly attributed to one man: Dan Schneider. 

 Schneider was untouchable. From the newfound success, Schneider gained a higher level of power and control over the people who worked on his shows, the undeniably toxic environment was kept in the dark for far too long. From oversexualizing kid actors, discriminating in the writer’s room, and verbally and borderline sexually assaulting adult employees, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV delves into all of the allegations against Schneider during his time at Nickelodeon. In addition, the docuseries reveals how Brian Peck, a dialogue coach on Schneider’s set, groomed and sexually abused a 15-year-old Drake Bell.

Watching the genuine fear of the cast and crew of Schneider’s “All That” and The Amanda Show,” set the tone for how Schneider would be characterized throughout the series. Within the first episode, there is already an off-putting aura around Schneider that exposes his sick behavior toward his employees. However, though the first impressions make you uncomfortable, that just gets worse as the stories unfold. 

The main focus of the opening episode is how Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen were both heavily belittled while writing for Schneider. When the narrative is told through both perspectives, you start to feel the weight of Schneider’s actions. Listening to these two women talk about how powerless they felt against Schneider’s mistreatment allows the audience to feel that helplessness, and makes you wish there was someone to stop the pain that they had to endure. You could see on both women’s faces how much they just wanted to be respected based on their writing.

 Beyond the gender injustice, the sexual harassment exhibited by Schneider is where I started to distinguish the showrunner from more than just a misogynistic jerk, but a heavily perverted creep. 

From here on out you start to pay close attention to anything that Schneider does, every moment you’re on edge about what his true intentions are, and if they are in any way sexual. The docuseries becomes no longer about the inequality on set, but the exploitation of the people on Schneider’s shows.

Explored more heavily in the “in plain sight” section of the series, Schneider proves to be a disgusting creep who should have never been in charge of kids in the first place. This part of the docuseries exposes the many retrospectively sexual scenes in shows like Icarly,” “Victorious” and “Zoey 101.”

 Growing up loving these shows, I thought nothing of the scenes with the goo squirting out on someone’s face, the many jokes about people’s feet, and the licking of items. This all just seemed like harmless kid humor to me when I was six. However, watching the same scenes now, puts into perspective how weird they truly were. 

To make matters worse, these scenes don’t just pop up once or twice, they happen routinely in each one of Schneider’s shows. It is explicitly explained how Schneider was purposely making sexual innuendos within his jokes because he thought it was funny. Schneider also said he loves making content and comedy that children would understand, which raises the question of who the sexual innuendos are aimed at in these shows.

In reality, it is aimed at the creeps like Schneider who find sexualizing underage children to be entertaining. Schneider’s shows were a massive part of my childhood, something that I would look forward to as a kid, but now it no longer becomes a rush of nostalgic joy and more of a reminder of the foulness of Schneider’s actions. The shows created by Schneider were loved by kids everywhere, which is what makes it even more sad to realize the dark truth about the showrunner and his intentions.

The fact that these shows gained so much popularity is what kept Schneider in control for so long, but watching the interviewed set members relive the trauma of working on these shows makes me think they should be erased from ever being aired again. Knowing the lewd nature of what certain scenes represent, I now understand this is something no child should be exposed to; and the undoubtedly perverted content created by a sick man like Schneider, should not have the grace of being put on television. If I am this disgusted watching how these people felt, I can’t imagine how terrible they must have felt experiencing it. 

The whole tone of the series finds a way to get even darker regarding the two episodes of Drake Bell. 

While the parts about Schneider are disgusting and disturbing to watch, the story of how a 15-year-old Bell was sexually abused to the worst degree by Brian Peck feels like we as an audience are intruding on the most personal secret of Bell’s traumatic life.

 Peck was a dialogue coach on Bell’s first big show, The Amanda Show,”, and was arrested in 2003 for sexually abusing an unnamed child actor. That actor was revealed to be Bell, and it is clear by his demeanor how much he trusted Peck at the time. Acting has always been Bell’s passion and love in life, so you can see the pain in his eyes and the hurt in his voice when he has to relive how part of that passion will always remind him of the darkest part of his life. There is no light in these two episodes, no happy ending, we have to watch the story of how Bell’s innocence was ripped away from him at 15 and how it changed his life forever, along with the piece of children that loved Nickelodeon.

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About the Contributor
Carson Chi
Carson Chi, Staff Writer
Life is like making a sandwhich, the bread always comes first.

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