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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

It’s hard to talk to someone who didn’t grow up with Nickelodeon. So many of the network’s television shows were staples for younger generations — iCarly, Victorious, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, and Rugrats, to name a few. 

These shows have been acknowledged as the peak of Nickelodeon’s popularity, generating millions of views across their respective lifespans. 

While I identify as a Disney Channel kid, I caught glimpses of these shows through discourse with those around me. So naturally, I took a trip down memory lane and watched a few episodes of a couple of the network’s most popular shows. 

Aside from the questionable neon wardrobes and sets, it’s easy to understand why these shows blew up. The scripts and jokes were (mostly) corny, the plot lines were silly, and the nostalgia from that time was infectious.

To many young people watching, these are just innocent shows depicting the wacky shenanigans characters get up to. However, the reality was much darker than we ever could have imagined. 

You would think after the harsh reckoning Hollywood has received because of the #MeToo movement as well as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and R. Kelly scandals (amongst many more), that this industry would have learned its lesson. But no, here we are again in an all-too-familiar position.

The Investigation Discovery documentary series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV premiered on March 17 this year, setting the entertainment world and social media ablaze. 

While fans would remember these shows as a blast to the past, so much happened behind the scenes that now overpower the success of these shows.

Countless Nickelodeon child stars, former writers, and crew have accused the network’s producers and crew members of creating a toxic work environment, alongside alleged child sexualization and abuse.

The bulk of these allegations stem from the mistreatment and dismissal of then Nickelodeon producer and screenwriter Dan Schneider, who Nickelodeon dropped in 2018 (with a reported seven million dollar payout, might I add).

Former Nickelodeon child actor and musician Drake Bell, known for his starring roles in The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, and Fairly OddParents, detailed sexual abuse suffered at the hands of dialogue coach Brian Peck when he was around 15 years old. 

Although Peck was eventually arrested in 2003, sentenced to 16 months in prison, and registered as a sex offender, he was still able to land jobs working on Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

Bell was not able to move forward as easily — he detailed his struggles with sobriety and mental health in the third episode of the series, which caused him to declare bankruptcy and a DUI in 2016.

“I would have stints of sobriety, and then the pressure would be too much, and all of these demons that I had were very difficult to work through,” Bell said in the documentary. “And so I think a lot of my self-destructive behaviour would always just be a temporary fix, and it would always creep back up.”

This was not the first time sexual assault was an issue for Nickelodeon, as Jason Handy, a former production assistant, pleaded no contest to “lewd acts on a child, distributing sexually explicit material by email and child sexual exploitation” in 2004. 

These charges originated from his actions against underage female guest actresses who appeared on The Amanda Show and Cousin Skeeter. Originally slapped with a six-year prison sentence, the self-described pedophile was later arrested again in 2014 on three counts of indecent liberties and two counts of sex offender registry violations.

Six years wasn’t enough time, I guess.

Schneider has also been accused of creating and enforcing a toxic work environment that was fueled with questionable behaviour, including sexism and racism

Christy Stratton, one of two female writers for The Amanda Show, stated how “working for Dan was like being in an abusive relationship.”

Jenny Kilgen, the second female writer, alleged that the female writers were forced to split their pay, silenced by Schneider from ever taking any legal action. When Kilgen returned for the show’s second season, she said she was forced to work for 11 weeks without pay

There was an effort to stop Schneider in his tracks directly. Both women filed a lawsuit against Schneider and Nickelodeon’s production company for “gender discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, and harassment.” The suit was settled in court, although allegations of mistreatment from Schneider continued past this point.  

While most of these shows’ runtimes were nearly two decades ago, and the brass of those who worked at the time have left, it does not mean that people’s voices are not worth listening to. This exemplifies society’s long dismissal of inappropriate behaviour and unjust actions, especially in Hollywood. 

It’s important to note that Schneider was officially let go by Nickelodeon six years ago. 

To emphasize — only six years ago!

So, Schneider, I hope you can hear the footsteps because this story is far from over…

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.

Adriana Fallico

Toronto MU '25

Adriana Fallico is a third-year journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She enjoys playing with dogs, watching the Toronto Maple Leafs and following politics. Her love of journalism stems from wanting to shed light on stories that require people's attention.