“Quiet On Set” Was Never Quiet

Talia Cutler ’27

Staff Writer

Like many children of the early 2000s, I grew up watching all the shows that have ascertained a certain level of cult classic in my generation: “iCarly,” “Victorious,” “Suite Life,” “Drake and Josh,” Zoey 101, etc. Also like many teens of the late 2010s, I witnessed the #MeToo movement spill over into children’s entertainment. And finally, like most college students, I watched the documentary “Quiet On Set” on a Roku TV in my dorm room. “Quiet On Set” is an investigative documentary into the practices of Nickelodeon behind closed doors (and mostly open ones). In particular, the show hones in on Dan Schneider, whose name is on some of the biggest shows of the 2000s and whose pedophilia is TV’s worst-kept secret. The show interviewed dozens of child stars, some of whom endured horrific and unspeakable sexual abuse during their stints on Nickelodeon.

Truthfully, I found the whole thing grotesque, and not in the way you may think. There is something fairly sinister that lies in the notion that tragedy must be presented in a packaged consumable manner to be understood. The abuse from this industry — or even this particular studio –- is not some big secret that is just now being unveiled. In fact, it was well-known and publicly spoken about for years.

Avan Jogia is open on social media about being so “hungover all the time” during the filming of “Victorious” that he “does not remember” the show. Alexa Nikolas of “Zoey 101” has gone on the record multiple times saying that she “did not feel safe” around the show’s creator, Dan Schneider. Jeanette McCurdy wrote in her New York Times bestseller “I’m Glad My Mom Died” that the studio offered her $300,000 to never publicly speak about her experiences at Nickelodeon or with a “certain producer.” And you’re just now putting the pieces together? Yeesh! This issue is not limited to Nickelodeon. Miley Cyrus’s very public breakdown had her slut-shamed as a teenager. Britney Spears shaved her head and was on the cover of US Weekly, Daily News the New York Post and more. Even now, post-#FreeBritney, the general public approaches her situation with very little nuance.

“Quiet On Set” was a great platform for child actors, writers and parents to tell their stories with grace and eloquence. However, it bothers me that people have to have the evidence cut, formatted and run through post-production in order to understand what is going on. It is a self-perpetuating issue that audiences can only see past the facade of entertainment through more entertainment. There appears to be an inherent lack of critical thinking coming through the new digital age — empathy is now limited to what can be fed to you in 40-minute episodes. No one is asking you to play Sherlock and gather clues and evidence — it takes a border collie to pick up on this level of pattern recognition. This is about seeing and understanding the world around you without a 10-part TikTok series or a TV special breaking it down for you. But hey, wishful thinking. What else have you missed? Did you know that Marylin Manson is bad? Or that veggies are good for you? My bad… perhaps we should wait for the miniseries “Nutrition Constriction: A Veggie Tale” to drop next week. Until then, Bantams!

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