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The Nightmare of Nickelodeon

Early 2000s Nickelodeon logo. (Photo courtesy of Fandom.)
Early 2000s Nickelodeon logo. (Photo courtesy of Fandom.)

Nickelodeon’s prime from the 90s to 2010s was all thanks to Nickelodeon “golden boy” Dan Schneider. The producer and screenwriter is known for creating many hugely successful shows on the network including iCarly, Victorious, Drake & Josh, and Zoey 101. But was this era of kids TV worth the sacrifices that went on behind the scenes? 

The open secret of Schneider’s hostile work environment has been highlighted recently with the release of the docuseries, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. The series shares the stories of Nickelodeon employees and stars who have been kept quiet for too long. Under the reign of Dan Schneider, there were many instances of verbal abuse, gender discrimination, child abuse, and more, on and off set.  

Female employees of Schneider were often at the point of his abuse. The Amanda Show writer, Christy Stratton says, “Working for Dan was like being in an abusive relationship.” Schneider often said that women were “not funny” and couldn’t “write funny.” He would ask his female employees to give him massages and showed them porn on his computer, always presenting his requests as jokes but then pressing them to do whatever he asked of them. Schnieder would threaten female employees’ jobs and future career if they didn’t comply. He also paid the two female writers on staff half a salary, forcing them to share their pay.   

The docuseries explored many different relationships including Schneider’s own with actress, Amanda Bynes, who starred on the shows All That and The Amanda Show, which Schneider was deeply involved in. Amanda was just 10 years old when she started working on Nickelodeon. She was seen as one of Schneider’s stars, and clearly favorited by him early on. Her relationship with Schneider has been described as “very close physically.” They were seen hugging a lot, and Amanda was often seen giving neck messages to Schneider. A sketch on The Amanda Show that was written by Schneider has the two of them together in a hot tub. The young Amanda is wearing a swimsuit while Schneider is fully clothed, which many have found to be creepy and problematic. 

The case that has gotten the most attention from viewers of the docuseries is the one of Brian Peck, a dialogue coach who worked on the set of All That and The Amanda Show. He was arrested in 2003 for child sexual abuse. The docuseries revealed that actor, Drake Bell from The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh, was the child star who Peck abused when Drake was only 15.  

After joining the cast of The Amanda Show in season 2, Drake started to take acting lessons from the credited coach. Peck soon took an interest in Drake and managed to integrate himself heavily into Drake’s life, taking the coworker relationship too far on and off set. Peck would show up to Drake’s concerts, make plans to hang out outside of set, and had Drake over to his house multiple times. Peck was also the one to convince Drake to fire his father, Joe Bell, who managed him at the time. After Joe Bell was out of the picture, Brian Peck started to fill the void as Drake’s manager and take him to auditions. Drake would often spend the night at Peck’s house because of this. Drake says he “was trapped and had no way out of it,” once the assaults had started, getting worse and worse the more time he’d spend at Peck’s house.  

Peck unfortunately wasn’t the only pedophile on the set of All That and The Amanda Show. Jason Handy, a production assistant, was arrested earlier in 2003. He had emailed inappropriate pictures of himself to a young actress from The Amanda Show, was found with over 10,000 images of children in his home, sexually assaulted a young guest star on another Nickelodeon show – Cousin Skeeter – and even admitted to being “a pedophile, full blown” in one of his journals. Handy was sentenced to 6 years in prison; after his release, he was arrested again in 2014 on 3 counts of indecent liberties with a child and for violating the sex offender registry. He is now incarcerated until 2038.  

Since 2017, Schneider’s shows have been looked at differently with references to porn and his feet “obsession” being the center to many jokes on the children’s shows he created. Child actors and actresses would act out scenes that had extremely suggestive content that upon watching now, any adult can easily recognize as inappropriate or in bad taste for children’s television.   

Nickelodeon had decided to stop working with Schneider in 2018, after receiving many complaints of his behavior on set. Many employees and stars of Nickelodeon say, “he should have been fired a long time ago.”  

Child mistreatment in the entertainment industry has been a hot topic throughout Hollywood, but not many laws have been put in place to make the environment safer and more comfortable for young stars. Nickelodeon might have been the one put on blast in this docuseries, but certainly isn’t the only network with dark secrets from on and off the set.  

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About the Contributor
Raley Elliott
Raley Elliott, Staff Reporter
Returning for her second year as a Staff Reporter for The Print, Raley Elliott is now a senior at Fallston. She is the Fallston Women’s Volleyball Manager, a Morning Announcer, and a part of the One Love Club and Best Buddies. Outside of school, she coaches synchronized ice skating. Raley enjoys music and attending concerts, along with spending time with friends and family. After high school, she wants to attend a 4-year college and major in communications.  
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