Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Quiet on Set: The dark side of children’s shows

Larissa Lopez
This year, a limited five-part documentary series called “Quiet on Set” was released, talking about the abusive and toxic environment created in these shows.

It’s 2011, you just came back from school waiting for dinner to be ready, so you decided to turn on the TV and put on Nickelodeon, the hit channel for kids TV shows all around the world. As time passed, the actors in these shows would gradually share their experiences, making everyone aware that the production of these shows is a lot darker than most would think. This year, a limited five-part documentary series called “Quiet on Set” was released, talking about the abusive and toxic environment created in these shows.

Actors from both more recent and older shows of the industry share their experiences, such as “All that” released in 1994, being the first show with director Dan Schneider’s collaboration, as well as the first look into the horrible environment and toxic behavior by him. Each actor showed their own fair of abuse and toxic behavior they encountered on set, such as racism, favoritism towards other actors and fat-shaming, such as telling one of the girls that “You can’t be the fat one.”

In this same episode where most of the early “All that” cast is interviewed, two female writers who worked in the show tell their experience, where one normal salary was divided between the both of them as Schneider explicitly stated that women “could not be funny,” as well as extremely weird behavior such as asking for massages from both of them, or to the worst extent, sexual harassment by showing them inappropriate content.

Amanda Bynes, one of the biggest child actors of the 90s, is mentioned extensively in this show, and it’s one of those cases that we will never be sure about what happened to her. She is not currently in a completely healthy headspace, and the effects of everything that happened to her can be seen to this day, as she was considered Schneider’s favorite girl. Even though the show was not able to interview Amanda Bynes, it is completely clear that she was also put under some sort of abuse.

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Finally, a large part of the third and fourth episodes talk about the legal case of sexual assault against Brian Peck, one of the actors and dialogue coach for “All That” and “The Amanda Show.” This case had the victim hidden since it occurred in 2003, with the documentary showing for the first time who it was: Drake Bell.

Drake Bell was manipulated and made distant from his father at 15 years old by Brian Peck, allowing Brian to get close to Drake and use his position of power to take continuous sexual advantage of him. Brian Peck would later be registered as a sex offender and do 16 months in jail but was able to return to work on a children’s show “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” showing the major fault of studios by not doing background searches.

A broadcaster like Nickelodeon let all of this happen in their own studios, as Dan Schneider was their “golden boy.” The power and control he had over others by making the studio millions of dollars made everyone completely scared to talk about what was happening. Throughout the documentary we are shown “comedy” with at best confusing undertones, and at worst jokes that are completely inappropriate and refer to content that should never be put in children’s media. Even if parents and other producers alike found these “jokes” disgusting, nobody could do anything as both feared getting fired or their child getting kicked off the show.

Learning about all that happened behind the scenes makes me wonder about what else is being hidden and how many other kids were put in danger, who will be silent by fear or money. Laws to protect kids’ safety in productions, make them feel safe to say if they don’t want to do this or that, and making intensive background searches on anyone working even remotely close to them is an important step forward to stop and prevent this endangerment, and to have let this events happen is extremely disgusting and there should never be a chance of happening again.

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About the Contributor
Larissa Lopez
Larissa Lopez, Photographer
Larissa Lopez (she/her/hers) is currently a photographer at The Winonan.
Larissa is an international student from Santa Cruz, Bolivia and is a second-year student at Winona State University in the major of Finance. She loves experimenting with the different activities offered on campus, and visiting as many places as possible. She hopes as a photographer, to be able to experience more events and portray them.
Larissa’s hobbies include watching films of any genre, making traditional and digital art, listening to music and biking around Winona.

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