The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

Docuseries “Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” reveals to the public the truth about child acting

On her personal computer, Kiera Gregory watches “Quiet On Set”, interested in the stories and the truth behind the scenes of Nickelodeon. Photo by Amelia Chu

For almost two decades, Nickelodeon has produced multimedia entertainment targeted at young audiences; some of these shows, including “Zoey 101”, “Victorious”, “Sam and Cat”, “Henry Danger” and “Big Time Rush”. Recently, videos of the actors and sexual abuse allegations towards Nickelodeon staff members have been exposed in the media. The issue gained more attention when the controversial docuseries “Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” was released in March, displaying the years of abuse, sexism and racism covered up by Nickelodeon. 

The pilot episode of “Quiet On Set” was aired March 17 by Maxine Productions on Investigation Discovery. The show takes viewers back to the ‘90s when Nickelodeon rose to fame and when acts of abuse first began. Nickelodeon stars such as Alexa Nikolas, Drake Bell, Giovonnie Samuels and Angelique Bates were included in the docuseries and vividly recounted the maltreatment they faced while being on Nickelodeon. Those who watched Nickelodeon as children such as Annie Zurn became uncomfortable by the allegations towards the producers and staff who created her favorite shows. 

I saw a lot of videos on TikTok that were really disturbing and they kind of intrigued me further [into] a deep dive into the tragedies that happened in Nickelodeon’s shows,” Zurn said. “When I found out, I was traumatized.”

Former producer Dan Schneider was the main topic of discussion. He was criticized on “Quiet on Set” for writing sexual innuendos into his shows, overworking his crew and creating an unsafe and controlling work environment for his co-workers. Nickelodeon workers accused him of asking for massages from his female staff, playing pornography around his coworkers and making sexually degrading pranks towards them and the actors.

“I was surprised,” Brian Lynch said. “I thought, ‘Wow, [the actors] can just put on a face like that and go from being harassed to going back to work.’ [The whole situation] is seriously weird.”

Along with Schneider, one of Nickelodeon’s former dialogue coaches, Brian Peck, was included in the series. In 2003, Peck was charged with 11 counts of child sexual abuse towards an unnamed actor and was found guilty with a 16-month sentence. For the first time publicly, Drake Bell and his father appeared on ‘Quiet On Set’ and revealed that he was the unnamed actor abused by Peck while acting on the Drake and Josh show. 

“It seems like [Bell] was one of the people who got abused pretty bad,” Claire Sage said. “Hearing his experiences was very horrifying. It’s sad, everything that [Peck and Schneider] put them through and just how some people were just so blind to what was happening.”

“Quiet On Set” hasn’t been the only attempt to expose the behind-the-scenes of child acting. Actress Jennette McCurdy, who appeared in the popular shows “iCarly” and “Sam and Cat,” published her New York Times Bestselling biography “I’m Glad My Mom Died” in 2022. In the book, she touched on Schneider, referencing him as ‘The Creator,’ and discussed his aggressive tendencies and the hostile workplace while acting for Nickelodeon. Elleia Patterson recalled that she was shocked to find out about the uncomfortable situation McCurdy experienced, such as being pressured to drink underage and wearing revealing outfits. 

“I read [“I’m Glad My Mom Died”] for an AP Lang project before everything started coming out,” Patterson said. “I grew up watching iCarly and [McCurdy’s] work, so learning about the abuse was very disappointing. It was honestly why I enjoyed [the book] so much, because I had no idea this was happening behind the scenes.” 

With the final episode debuting April 7, the show displayed a total of nine former actors who spoke about the reality of working as a child actor in the ‘90s and 2000s. Following the release of “Quiet on Set,” others spoke up about their experiences in the Hollywood industry. Viewers like Mayah Acosta felt disgusted that these child actors suffered in silence while the world watched.  

“[The allegations] were surprising because the shows were super happy and entertaining that you wouldn’t expect what they were going through,” Acosta said. “It’s really crazy.”

Although Schneider didn’t receive any legal repercussions for his allegations, “Quiet On Set” opened up an important discussion about the exploitation of children in show business. 

“Seeing how much they went through without anyone really knowing or helping really stood out to me,” Patterson said. “It was so normalized.”


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