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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | ‘Quiet on Set’ might ruin your childhood, but watch it anyway

Courtesy of Max

In March 2024, “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” a docuseries detailing the toxicity behind hit Nickelodeon shows from the 1990s and 2000s, was released on streaming platforms. The series features former child actors who appeared on hit shows like “All That” and “The Amanda Show” that were run by executive producer Dan Schneider. 

Nickelodeon severed ties with the producer in 2018, saying in a statement to Deadline that “many conversations together about next directions and future opportunities” had led the network and Schneider to “not extend the current deal.”

Prior to his departure, Schneider was investigated for sexual misconduct allegations following the #MeToo movement. Though no evidence of sexual misconduct was found, he was proved to have been verbally abusive while on set.

His abuse, which created an environment rife with racism, sexism and harassment, is the main topic of the docuseries. The former parents and stars who lived through these experiences bravely recount their stories. 

Since its premiere, the docuseries has gotten at least 16 million viewers spread across multiple streaming services.  

The public reaction to the series has largely been a mix of shock and support for the alleged victims, with many adults who watched Nickelodeon as children now rewatching the shows and recognizing problematic themes within them, like inappropriate jokes made by the child actors. 

According to Today, adults are “‘disheartened’ by the allegations about behind-the-scenes misconduct on the shows they grew up with.”

“Quiet on Set” has definitely brought up many important issues connected to children actors and the behind-the-scenes toxicity they often experience. Nickelodeon is no stranger to controversy as former child star Jennette McCurdy has been very open about her negative experiences, namely in her book, “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” She and a number of other stars said they faced misconduct or abuse at the hands of the showrunners and producers, the same people who were supposed to protect the children.

There was an obvious power imbalance on Nickelodeon sets, which opened the door for many child stars to be exploited and exposed to inappropriate situations (such as underage drinking) while they were working. 

The docuseries is a hard watch, as it brings up horrific examples of abuse, but it is extremely important for people to watch a series like this for two main reasons. One, it exposes just how unethical these made-for-children TV programs are, and two, it brings awareness to the normalization of child abuse in the industry.

Nickelodeon is not the only TV station to have a multitude of controversies, but it has gotten away with its immoral decisions made for the well-being of the shows rather than the best interests of the child actors.

The channel is no stranger to having child predators work for it, the most notable one being Brian Peck, a dialogue coach convicted of sexually assaulting Drake Bell. Besides Peck, there was another man Nickelodeon hired even though he had been convicted of a sex crime involving a child, and at least three employees would go on to commit sex crimes against children.

Nickelodeon turned a blind eye to its actors’ safety in order to hire these dangerous men, despite these programs literally being made for children. It makes you wonder if Nickelodeon really values its child actors’ safety and well-being at all.

Child abuse in the acting industry is a decades-old story. Vulnerable and easily manipulated, children are too often easy targets.

Some children have parents who are just as bad as these executives at these companies, and other children are led to believe their career is more important than their well-being. “Quiet on Set” just serves to reveal the way children were blatantly abused, devoid of almost any protection they should have received.

Despite Nickelodeon’s complete lack of safety for its child actors, these shows are still a part of many people’s childhoods. Should you still watch them? Well, the choice is up to you. There’s a difference between watching a show for the sake of nostalgia and watching a show because you don’t care about the victims. If a person chooses to rewatch these shows, however, they should be aware of the victims and their stories, and condemn the people responsible for the trauma inflicted on the actors.

If people choose not to watch these shows after watching the docuseries, that’s totally understandable and a reasonable response.

The series was a great way to validate victims and expose the harmful behavior behind the scenes of once beloved TV programs. 

Child labor laws are in place to ensure the well-being of child workers, but it’s evident that children in the industry are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by employers and parents alike. 

There should be federal laws enacted for child safety in the entertainment industry, and one law in particular, the Coogan Law, which protects children’s financial security, should be applied to all states.

Taking the time to listen to the stories shared will hopefully create enough outrage to ensure future child actors will be better protected in the future.

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