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Why The Quiet On Set Documentary Changes Everything

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 UCSB chapter.

This past weekend I finally watched the Quiet on Set docuseries on HBO Max. My friends had been talking about it nonstop and I had been seeing clips of it all over TikTok. Since I had grown up in the golden age of Nickelodeon of course I was curious about what it was about, but I had no idea what was really going on behind the scenes at Nickelodeon until I watched.

For years leading up to the release of this documentary, I had seen lots of exposing clips regarding ex-Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider. Dan Schneider was the mind behind many of the television shows that truly defined our generation like iCarly and Victorious. These clips were centered around his creepy and perverted nature where he would write scenes with sexual undertones for children to perform. Gross.

One of the famous clips that I was able to recall before watching the documentary was a video of Ariana Grande, who played Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon shows Victorious and Sam and Cat, laying upside down off the side of her bed pouring water down her neck into her mouth saying she was “thirsty.” I remember watching it and thinking it was weird, and now as an adult, I thought it was even weirder.

In addition to the claims of inappropriate workplace conduct and discrimination regarding Schneider, he frequently wrote scenes that would sexualize children and young adults. As a kid, these jokes would just fly straight over my head, but now revisiting them as an adult I was appalled to see what I had been watching growing up.

After the blatant workplace misconduct done by Dan Schneider was explained, the docuseries took an even darker turn.

In the final two episodes of the docuseries, it was uncovered that Drake Bell, childhood icon from the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh, had been assaulted by his on-set dialogue coach Brian Peck as an underage boy. This is the first time that Drake Bell has made this information public, as he was anonymous in the court case aiming to condemn Brian Peck for his actions.

Bell details the attack and explains how he felt trapped in the secrecy of being in a powerless situation. The most disturbing part of this scandal was that when Brian Peck’s actions were finally called into question, other Hollywood celebrities like James Marsden, Alan Thicke, and others wrote personal letters defending their relationships with him. These actors claimed that Brain Peck was “one of the best people they had ever known” and that “[what happened between Brian Peck and his accuser] must have been a misunderstanding or a lie.” Not only was it shocking to learn that these other Hollywood actors I grew up knowing were connected to Brian Peck, but it was even more shocking to see their public support of a child predator.

At the time, Drake Bell was growing in his career where he was finally making money and gaining notoriety. This time in his life should have been a time he wanted to remember. Instead, it was the start of a long-term traumatic memory that would alter his relationship with adults, himself, and the course of his life forever.

This docuseries highlights the importance of not only protecting child actors, as well as all children. The fact that these child actors were not only mistreated on set due to workplace misconduct regarding being oversexualized or discriminated against, but were also put in dangerous situations where they felt silenced is appalling and wrong.

The threatening and predatory nature of the adults whose lives revolved around working with the children at Nickelodeon has always needed to be addressed. Through addressing these wrongdoings, strides can made made towards protecting children in the industry. Watching this documentary altered my perception of Nickelodeon. It would be crazy if it didn’t. A lot of my memories that were originally nostalgic, now feel sad.

Spreading this truth is important, and while it is hard to digest that these atrocities were occurring while these children were innocently bringing joy to our screens, it is a reality we as consumers need to address. Quiet on Set is finally bringing attention to the dark sides of the entertainment industry, creating a space for actors to speak out, and providing an opportunity for the public to stand with them.

Hi there! I am from Newport Beach California and am a fourth year communications major here at UCSB. I love going for walks and runs around Isla Vista, going to the beach with friends, and going on spontaneous adventures. I am so excited to be able to contribute to the amazing writing platform that is Her Campus.