‘Quiet On Set’: The truth behind a 2000s childhood

“Quiet On Set” brings forward abuses faced by those involved with Nickelodeon. Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

GIANNA CASSIN | STAFF REPORTER | gcassin@butler.edu 

Content warning: sexual abuse, pedophilia and abuse involving minors

Nickelodeon is one of the most well-known children’s television networks to this day. Formed in the late 1990s, it quickly gained popularity with younger audiences. Although many of the network’s shows hold special memories in 2000s kids’ hearts, the evil from behind the scenes has come to light and has recently been delved into in the new docu-series “Quiet On Set”. The series aired its first four episodes on March 17. As “Quiet On Set” reveals, the shows that were such happy memories for the ones watching mean something completely different to those who worked on them. 

Many of the biggest stars from these iconic shows have come forward about the truth behind production. The focal points of the docu-series are the rise of Dan Schneider and the sexual harassment and abuse experienced by other Nickelodeon employees. 

“Quiet on Set” begins by focusing on the popular late 90s, early 2000s show “All That”. Schneider was shown to be a self-deprecating and funny boss in early behind-the-scenes footage. 

The narrative shifts to the female writers who worked under Dan Schneider and experienced extreme discrimination. The two women in the writers’ room shared one salary and were also constantly being objectified or told they were not funny. 

The series also touches on many scenes written or directed by Dan Schneider that those who watched as kids did not know were sexually suggestive at the time. Now, looking back, many jokes were very inappropriate for children, both to be watched or performed by them. 

Another focus of the series is Drake Bell, one of the stars of the Nickelodeon series “Drake & Josh”, and the abuses he faced. Despite his coming forward, very little was done about his abuser — a dialogue coach on the set of “The Amanda Show” — who was still able to work with children after. 

While Drake Bell was a victim of abuse in his childhood, he also has accusations against him as an adult. Bell’s ex-girlfriend accused him of physical and verbal abuse in 2020. A former female fan also accused Bell of grooming her beginning at age 12 and sending her sexually explicit photos. Following these allegations, in July 2021, Bell was put on two years probation for child endangerment. In 2019, Bell moved to Mexico — though he claims he never moved — and changed his name to Drake Campana, which translates to “bell” in Spanish. 

Bell’s ex-girlfriend recently took to social media to share that she was being harassed online by Bell’s supporters after the docu-series aired. 

For many who grew up during this period and watching these shows, it has completely altered their perception of the shows they once loved. 

Sophomore English major Kat Freeman now looks at the shows in a new light. 

“[The docu-series] really shocked me, and I didn’t know the full scale that [the abuse] happened to everybody,” Freeman said. “I saw in the documentary that Jerry Trainor, the guy who played Spencer [in ‘iCarly’], would protect the kids and try and draw focus from Dan Schneider. I don’t think I ever could look at those shows the same again anymore.” 

Drake Bell’s story really stood out to a lot of viewers. Junior psychology major Paige Newsom recalls a quote from Bell that struck her. 

“He talked about a court situation where Nickelodeon had a bunch of supporters for them, and he as the victim didn’t have any support, and that shocked me,” Newsom said. “We were all kids. It’s shocking to revisit that and see. To know that people were in those situations and went through that dampens the shows.” 

Since the release of this docu-series, several other young actors have come forward with their stories, such as “Zoey 101” actor Matthew Underwood. Fans online pressured him into speaking about the abuses, and he asked that people be more understanding of actors’ privacy. 

Docu-series like “Quiet on Set” raise awareness for the victims. Bringing workplace abuses such as those in the series to light works to create a better environment for child actors in the future. However, these docu-series can also show some unsettling truths about humanity. Audiences online have taken this as a form of entertainment, even while it involves actors unpacking their trauma. Producers have been teasing an exclusive bonus episode, which many are excited to watch. While it is important to bring these things to light, the network is still making money off of the stories, and people are treating the release of the new episode as an event to look forward to. 

A fifth and final episode of the docu-series will be released on Max on Sunday, April 7.


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