Breaking News
  • April 265/7-5/8: Senior Exams
  • April 265/10: No School
  • April 265/13: Graduation
  • April 265/27: No School
  • April 266/3-6/5: Half Days for Exams
The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Publicizing the untold stories of Nickelodeon, “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” fuels a craze for the network’s captivating corruption

The cover image for Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.
The cover image for “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.”

Logically, it would make sense that kids’ TV shows would foster safe working environments designed to protect the child actors on set. 

In spite of this obvious conclusion, Nickelodeon has the exact opposite. 

Similar to how I fixated on the network’s shows as a kid, I am now plagued by an obsession with the scandals behind Dan Schneider, the company’s most acclaimed creator, and his productions’ corruption. 

Last week, I finally read Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died—a long-term resident in my “want to read” list—which discusses her negative experiences as a young actress on two of Nickelodeon’s hit shows, iCarly and Sam and Cat. Coincidentally, as I devoured the final pages of her story, HBO Max released a four-episode docuseries about Nickelodeon’s scandals, tying in many of the same themes as McCurdy’s book. 

Upon watching the first few minutes of the series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, I was hooked. I consumed the next three episodes in a rush, eager to discover the network’s untold scandals

The further I delved into the show and the more I figured out about the shows I watched as a kid, the more appalled I became. My jaw dropped multiple times per episode—I promise I am not exaggerating—upon hearing the stories of Schneider’s workplace abuse and other of the network’s crimes. Fully grown staff and child actors alike, Schneider seemed to have acted inappropriately toward virtually everyone unlucky enough to be in his presence. 

Quiet on Set’s first episode specifically focused on his treatment of two female writers, Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen, who worked on the early-2000s sketch comedy The Amanda Show. The two women were the only female writers and were made acutely aware of that fact through the way Schneider treated them. 

Outside of blatantly sexist comments that seemed to barely slide by, he requested the women to act out vilely unprofessional scenes in the writers’ room and give him personal massages. Being in a position to determine whether or not they would keep their employment status, the women felt obligated to meet his demands, or else risk losing their jobs. 

However, tensions reached their peak upon Schneider, making the two women split a single person’s salary, which is illegal and something that was not asked of his male employees. Though Schneider is finally receiving his well-deserved and negative publicity, the women’s struggle went primarily unnoticed for years, as they lost their jobs after speaking out about Schneider’s sexism. Upon hearing their story, I empathized with them because of their awful experiences, especially due to the frustration they must have felt when having to watch Schneider continue to economically and publicly prosper. 

Similar to how I fixated on the network’s shows as a kid, I am now plagued by an obsession with the scandals behind Dan Schneider.

In addition to Stratton and Kilgen, Quiet on Set features interviews with actors who acknowledge the hostile environment fostered by Schneider’s dictation and drastically fluctuating mood swings. Many talk of how Schneider made them feel uneasy with some of the things he made them do on his shows—both rehearsed and impromptu. 

Thus, it’s safe to say that Quiet on Set sets up Schneider as a villain from the beginning. 

The most shocking knowledge I took away from the show, however, was the extent to which suggestive jokes are embedded in Schneider’s children’s productions. Since he was Nickelodeon’s powerhouse producer for over 20 years, many of the network’s biggest hits are his creations and, therefore, contain many of his inappropriate innuendos. 

Although I loved many of his shows as a child, I remember watching them and feeling like they were more mature than most of the other programming I was used to, primarily shows on Nickelodeon’s biggest rival, Disney Channel. 

Watching Quiet on Set refamiliarized me with some of the most peculiar jokes on Nickelodeon’s shows and made me realize why I sometimes got the feeling I was missing something upon watching them as a kid. Not all of the situations performed on the shows seemed very funny, just odd. 

Rewatching them now, I see why I didn’t always laugh along with the automated background soundstage noise. Many of Schneider’s jokes—particularly, I’ve noticed on Victorious—were not intended to be funny to ten-year-olds like myself as much as they were geared toward adult audiences. Disguised as “silly” kid’s entertainment, a fair number of Schneider’s scenes are really just jests at adult content, acted out by children and teenagers. 

Whether made out to objectify his underage cast members or merely to poke fun at brazen topics, Schneider’s creations were not appropriate viewing for children, even if the vast majority did not catch the hidden implications. 

However, Schneider’s twistedness isn’t the only astonishing element of Nickelodeon: the company also hired multiple sexual predators to work with the children on set. 

In the latter half of the series, the show switches from focusing on Schneider specifically to exploring the sex offenders who worked on Nickelodeon: production assistant Jason Handy, animator Ezel Channel, and acting coach Brian Peck. Despite their known criminal statuses, the men were still hired and effectively deeply traumatized the child actors and actresses whom they targeted on set. 

As I neared closer and closer to the end of Quiet on Set, one thing became crystal clear to me. I would not want to be a child actress on Nickelodeon, and I feel for the exploited few unlucky enough to have worked on a Nickelodeon TV show.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Elle Manning
Elle Manning, Staff Writer
Elle is a sophomore beginning her first year on The Central Trend. She loves to read novels, create extravagant Pinterest boards, and journal in her seemingly scarce free time. Her biggest passions include writing and fashion, and she hopes to one day be able to combine the two into a future career. She has been a cheerleader since fourth grade and continues to spend her time on the sidelines every football season. In the spring, she enjoys playing tennis, even though she is still learning. She is often found with Spotify open; she loves to listen to music from a variety of different genres and decades. Most recent musical fixation: Weyes Blood Dream school: Columbia University Favorite book: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt Favorite comfort films: All of The Twilight Saga (primarily the first two movies)

Comments (0)

All The Central Trend Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *