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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

Content Warning: This article discusses the sexualization and abuse of minors.

For decades, Hollywood has been producing rising child-stars for the world to watch and adore. Yet, with millions of eyes scrutinizing each of their actions, many of the child-stars have struggled under the weight of social pressure as they got older. From Demi Lovato, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan, all the way back to stars like Judy Garland and Shirley Temple, there has been a consistent pattern of exploitation of children in Hollywood. For most, this led to their “fall from grace” as their physical and/or mental health deteriorated due to their difficult childhood in the industry. With this consistent pattern, it is no coincidence that there is something wrong with Hollywood’s treatment of young actors and actresses, especially in the big companies like Disney and Nickelodeon that work significantly more with children.

Just like most 2000s kids, I grew up watching Disney and Nickelodeon shows. While I was personally more of a Disney kid, my childhood friend’s favorite shows to watch with me were iCarly and Victorious. Yet, watching these shows in particular were sort of our secret. Like many other kids our age, my friend’s parents did not allow her to watch these Nickelodeon shows at her house. But of course, being the rebellious kids we were, we watched them anyway at our babysitter’s house almost everyday. Back then, we just thought her parents didn’t like the sassiness of the iCarly and Victorious characters that we viewed as cool. However, after reflecting on these shows from an adult perspective, it is likely that there were additional factors beyond mere “bad influences” that dissuaded parents.

Upon revisiting certain notorious scenes from Nickelodeon shows such Ariana Grande’s character, Cat, dousing herself with water on a bed or the numerous instances of humor revolving around feet, it became evident that many of the jokes relied heavily on sexual innuendos that are clearly inappropriate for the intended young audience. While these jokes may have gone over most kids’ heads, it’s questionable why those jokes were even present. So who is behind these inappropriate and creepy scenes, and what impact did it have on the child actors themselves?


If you are chronically online and/or grew up watching Nickelodeon, you probably have heard of the name Dan Schneider. For those who are unfamiliar, Dan Schneider was the producer of Nickelodeon’s top kid shows from the 90s and 2000s such as The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Victorious, and iCarly. However, Schneider was brought under scrutiny by the media as old scenes from his shows resurfaced under a new and darker light. The fire was further fueled in 2022 when iCarly star, Jennette McCurdy, released her memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. In her book, McCurdy gave insight into the alleged inappropriate experiences working with an ominous figure called “The Creator” on set, leading people to further question the past actions of the former Nickelodeon producer.


With the release of the docu-series, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, untold stories were shared by a lineup of former child stars and workers from the set of Nickelodeon. Throughout the episodes, these stories uncovered the toxic culture experienced under Schneider’s production and in the children’s media industry. The series further revealed the horrors the child-stars had to face both on and off set, from discrimination and dangerous stunts while filming, to sickening child sexual abuse carried out by production assistant Jason Handy, animator Ezel Channel, and acting coach Brian Peck.

The series dove further into former Drake & Josh star Drake Bell’s experience as he revealed himself as the “John Doe” minor that was abused by Peck leading to his incrimination as a sex offender. Bell recounted the twisted manipulation and horrifying sexual exploitation produced by Peck for months before his time on Drake & Josh, ultimately leading to a lifetime scar as he struggled with his mental health.

What really surprised me after watching this docu-series was how this could all happen under the supervision of hundreds of other adults on and off set? It made me wonder how many blind eyes were turned when filming these inappropriate scenes and lines being openly crossed between the adults and children behind the scenes. But the big question that made me want to scream in anger was why did Peck get hired by Disney to work with kids again on ‘The Suite Life of Zack & Cody’ after being convicted as a child sex offender?!?


This compliancy and lack of accountability made by the other adults present during these horrible events led me to the groupthink theory:

  • As described by psychologist Irving Janis, groupthink is a social psychological phenomenon described as a “mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive in-group that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action.”

Additionally, groupthink tends to deteriorate moral judgment resulting from in-group pressures. After watching the docu-series, there have been clear signs of groupthink occurring on the Nickelodeon set:

Rationale – A first obvious sign was the rationalization of Schneider’s actions and production choices while filming the inappropriate scenes. The show discussed how others working on the sets passed off Schneider’s questionable jokes as just his unique “humor”. Even worse, Bell’s father, Joe Bell, recounted his consistent concerns about Peck’s inappropriate physical closeness to his son on set. Yet, when he expressed his concerns to production personnel, he was waived off as they explained Peck was just a “touchy” guy and pointed out that Peck was gay, accusing Joe as homophobic. As a result of this rationalization of the clear warning signs expressed by those in power, many children have been harmed and put in unnecessary danger.

Self-censorship – A common result of groupthink is the self-censorship of individuals who may hold contrary opinions to the consensus, but hold off due to fear of judgment from the group. In the first episode, early women writers for The Amanda Show, Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen, recounted their silent suffering through their mistreatment by Schneider in the writers room. They explained that they endured the inappropriate experiences and kept silent as they feared judgment from the other writers and even possibly losing their job.

Morality – Groupthink also twists the perception of morality, as people in the group believe they are inherently morally correct. This can result in dangerous ignorance that looks past the harmful consequences of damaging actions from those within the group. The most surprising and disappointing thing that was revealed in the docu-series was the outpour of support from prominent actors and industry insiders for Peck during his sentencing hearing for child sexual abuse. Peck received 41 letters of support and had a full court on his side during his hearing, which Bell recounted as extremely shocking and disappointing. This abundant support was disheartening, but also made me wonder how all these people could choose the adult abuser over the child victim. Boy Meets World stars, Rider Strong and Will Friedle, reflected on their own letters of support for Peck after watching the docu-series detailing Bell’s story. On Feb. 19 in their “Pod Meets World” podcast, Strong and Friedle recounted Peck’s alleged manipulation as he reached out for support from others in the industry. Friedle detailed how Peck twisted the story, claiming he was “a victim of jailbait,” and “turned [them] against the victim.” The Boy Meets World stars, as well as many others who wrote their support for Peck during his hearing, fell under the false belief that Peck was inherently a good man. This led to dangerous downplaying of Peck’s actions, and even resulted in harmful victim blaming.


Overall, I recommend checking out ‘Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV’ streaming on Max, to become your own researcher. After watching this docu-series, I am reminded that Hollywood is not always what it appears. Celebrities may hold a perfect facade or seem to have that flawless life, making people forget they are human too with their own difficult experiences. Perhaps if people have more empathy, compassion and respect towards each other, the world might just be a better place.

Kaylie Sauceda is a member of the Texas A&M University chapter of Her Campus. She is a blossoming writer who is eager to grow in her skills and explore her passion in writing. As a lover of psychology, she enjoys diving into the human experience through her writing with an incorporation of her own experiences. She additionally is a lover for fashion, books, media, and all things pop culture. Kaylie is a second year undergraduate student at TAMU majoring in psychology with a focus in healthy development and psychology of diversity, as well as minoring in Neuroscience. She hopes to pursue her PhD in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. Kaylie greatly values family and relationships, and aspires to be a marriage and family therapist to help others grow and nurture their own healthy relationships in their lives. Aside from Her Campus, Kaylie is also an active member of PhilSA and is the captain for PhilSA’s women and coed flag football team. She is also a continuing band kid who plays the clarinet for TAMU’s Symphonic Winds. In her free time, she is an avid movie watcher and book reader who is a sucker for rom-coms, romance books, and a dramatic plot that can make her ugly cry.