McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

McHenry High School's student-written and -edited newspaper

The McHenry Messenger

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An open secret 

“Quiet On Set” a new docu series on Maxx and Discovery+ has brought to light the dark side of children’s TV and has given a voice to victims of Dan Schneider and his staff
Investigation Discovery
“Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” is a documentary series recounting behind-the-scenes details from working with producer Dan Schneider.

Nickelodeon’s “open secret” has now made it to the mainstream through the new docu series “Quiet On Set” released on Maxx and Discovery + in late March. The series explored the industry that is children’s TV and the darker side of Nickelodeon and their “talent”. Nothing in this documentary is new information though, everything discussed are problems that have been revealed for years, the only difference is that it is now “mainstream”.

Nickelodeon has been a powerful player in children’s entertainment and TV since 1977. Starting under the name Pinwheel and being a local channel in Ohio, the studio was rebranded and joined Paramount in 1979 under the new name Nickelodeon. The channel really peaked in the late 80’s though the 90’s producing shows like Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and All That. Whether it was animation or live action there was a problem with the inner workings at Nickelodeon, and that was their show runners. Dan Schneider the director of shows ICarly, Drake & Josh, and countless others is the main focus of the series. The documentary talks to victims of Schneider and his staff and how they did to the cast of their shows, and how it affected these young actors.

Now Nickelodeon has been aware of their problem for decades but like any other company they want money, and Schneider brought in a lot. Schneider was the producer and director for most of the live-action shows on Nick from 1994 to 2014, when he was then “fired” from Nick. Even after being fired it took Nick four more years to fully sever ties with Schneider. They only severed ties with him because people began to speak out more against him. Schneider and the people he employed hurt children and even after countless people coming forward, and Drake Bell’s lawsuit, it still took the studio decades to cut ties with him. They “fired” him to make themselves look good to the public but were still working with him and unfortunately that is the industry. That fact they allowed children to be around these types of people, not just Schneider is crazy.

It is not just the live-action side of Nick that has been affected by their poor hiring system, but animation as well. Though not mentioned in the docu series, John Kricfalusi, creator of “The Ren & Stimpy Show”, was very open on his feelings about minors yet it was swept under the rug. The guy was dating a 16 year old, openly, and nothing was done. The studio had the power to help victims and to stop the abuse but they did not. Unlike with Schneider, Kricfalusi was fired back in 1992 but he should have had his shows canceled with his leave, but Nick kept his shows on air, giving him money, for years. Kricfalusi and what he did should be getting the same light as Schneider is, yes this specific series is about Schneider, but it does not matter anything involving kids should be public knowledge. It is sad that these issues are only coming up because the series got popular. If the show did not get popular then neither would the issue.

The issues addressed in the series is not just a Nickelodeon problem but an overall industry problem. One that should be brought up more often and it is great that the show got so popular. It is bringing awareness to a problem that needs to be talked about more often. It is a hard subject and the reason it is not brought up more is because it is hard for victims to speak out about it. The industry is good at hiding what happens behind the scenes so it is up to people to speak out. This docu series really showed that and its producers gave these victims a way to speak out. Drake Bell, though not the most honorable person out there, is one reason people got drawn to the show. It really solidified that this could happen to anyone, even a big name star. It was a good move on the producers’ part, it brought more attention to what has happened.

It is hard to say that Dan Schneider did not do anything wrong, because he did. However it does not mean people can not still watch and enjoy his shows. Shows like ICarly, Victorious, and Drake and Josh are parts of people’s childhoods. Even though Scheider was doing what he was doing it is hard not to like the shows he created. MCHS junior Jamison Shea says, “I’ve learned to separate art from the artist and at the end of the day it’s really the actors that made the shows what they are.” There are tons of shows and movies that were made by terrible people but to a certain extent it is okay to still like those shows and movies.

The docu series was a well thought out way for victims to tell their stories and brought light to an underlying issue. The issue is not something that is exclusive to Nickelodeon but industry wide, and that should be known. Studios should not be allowed to hide and cover up stories like this. If pressure is put onto studios then most of the time they will change, they want money, and they will not get that money if they do not have a good public image. Victims can make a change and there is a good chance this series and the stories told in it can make that change.

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