Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV

Dan Schneider with a group of child actors

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV featured a group of journalists and investigators who exposed some of the abuse faced by child actors who worked at Nickelodeon and Disney in the 1980s to early 2000s. Only a few actors were willing to appear on camera, and the exposé felt incomplete. But it is a start.

Two Men Named

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV focused in on two men who worked in kids programming. Dan Schneider was the creator of many popular kids shows and had enormous power over the careers and incomes of the young actors working for him. He was emotionally and verbally abusive, especially to women and girls.

Amanda Bynes in an interview

Ben Schneider made young girls like Amanda Bynes from The Amanda Show do many sexualized, inappropriate things on their shows. Things that didn’t belong in children’s programming. Things that young girls (and boys) should not have been asked to do.

Actors and their parents all went along with Ben Schneider’s requests because he had enormous power. In the documentary, these abuses were related by parents, writers, producers and others who were around. A few of the actors spoke out but not the very famous ones like Ariana Grande. Jeanette McCurdy from iCarly has written her own book about those days called I’m Glad my Mother Died. In the book, McCurdy talks about her mother’s abuse but she also talks about Ben Schneider.

I certainly don’t blame a single one of those children for what they went through and don’t think they are required to tell all now just because they’ve grown up.

The other man mentioned

Brian Peck was a vocal coach who raped and abused young boys. One in particular was willing to speak up in this documentary series.

Drake Bell as a teen

Drake Bell, who was one of the stars of Drake & Josh, spoke at length about how he’d been groomed by Brian Peck. He explained how he’d been separated from his parents protection and raped repeatedly by Peck.

Drake Bell’s parents brought charges against Brian Peck and he did go to jail for a few months.

The bottom line is there were very few consequences for the abusive men who perpetrated these acts, or the men who enabled them to keep doing it. There were no protections for the kids they hurt. Many of those young people went on to have emotional and mental health issues that affected their ability to continue working.

Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz directed the series. They used interviews, clips from shows, lots of photos, news video and more to tell the story.

It’s obvious that strong protections for kids need to be in place. This brief documentary series covers a few examples. I felt like we were only getting a part of the story. The series is streaming on Max or can be rented on Prime.

ADDENDUM: Another episode of this series has been scheduled to air on ID and later on Max. Several of the stars interviewed in this series will be available. Here’s an article about it at The Mary Sue.

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