“Quiet On Set” breaks silence with bonus episode

“Quiet On Set” breaks silence with bonus episode

Review: Former Nickelodeon child actors and employees speak their truth about the damage endured during their careers.

Screen Capture of Quiet on Set

Editor’s Note: This article contains sensitive information related to child abuse.

From gender discrimination to child abuse, Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is an eye-opening watch for millennials and Gen-Zers alike.

The Max original four-part docu-series divulges the truths of working in Hollywood in the 1990s and 2000s. The show garnered so much buzz in the month of March that a bonus fifth episode aired on Sunday, April 7.

At the center of the controversy is Nickelodeon’s so-called “golden boy” Dan Schneider who co-workers and actors called out for inappropriate workplace behavior and questionable creative direction in various shows. Damning accusations about Schneider escalate with each episode.

Nickelodeon stars Giovonnie Samuels, Bryan Hearne and Shane Lyons come together to discuss their mutual discomfort with Schneider’s decisions and demeanor on set. They respond to an interview between Schneider and iCarly actor BooG!e and give their reaction to the docu-series.

Shortly after, Hearne’s mother participates in the discussion about children in entertainment and how the Nickelodeon set environment was damaging to her relationship with her son.

Not only was the network extremely dangerous for children, the series delves into severe gender inequality for the women writers for Nickelodeon shows.

Screengrab of Amanda Bynes, Drake Bell, and Josh Peck on set at Nickelodeon
Amanda Bynes, Drake Bell and Josh Peck pose on a set as Nickelodeon child stars.

The only two female writers, Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen wrote for The Amanda Show under Schneider’s direction, and talk about the gender inequality faced by Paramount Studios’ former comedy writing team.

Kilgen and Stratton were hired as a pair splitting a single writer’s salary. No male employee was given the same ultimatum.

“This is what I worked so hard for. I am not about to turn it down” Kilgen said. “I thought to myself, ‘Don’t be a complainer, you know, do whatever you have to do to get this job.’” 

This series successfully highlights perspectives from cast and crew members who were repeatedly allegedly abused by Schneider.

Old interviews of Schneider have not helped his case, as he is quoted making statements such as, “I love when the cast is sassy with me because then I can write the script and put them in any predicament or position that I want.”

The TV showVictorious has raised concern after behind-the-scenes footage was given a second look.

Actress and pop star Ariana Grande played Cat Valentine, a girly, giggly teenage girl. She does various scenes from her bedroom where she bites her toes in a “comedic” way and pours water on herself as she lays in bed while repeating “I’m thirsty!”

Drake Bell speaks onstage during the
Getty Images
Drake Bell speaks onstage during the “Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” at For Your Consideration event.

The fifth bonus episode, “Breaking the Silence” focuses on an additional Q&A from Drake Bell and why he chose to come forward with his story.

The former childhood star has been the main focus of the show because of the abuse he endured from his dialogue coach Brian Peck.

“The choice to participate was a tough one,” Bell said in the final episode. “I had been approached before and I wasn’t ready and said no. When the people from the doc reached out to me, and I was speaking with Emma [director], she made me feel very comfortable, took her time, and was really sensitive.”

Bell was among the most well-known Nickelodeon actors in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He starred on The Amanda Show, All That and Drake & Josh, all hit TV shows produced by Schneider.

Peck was considered a well-respected acting coach in Hollywood who had a history of working with actors like Leonardo DiCaprio.

He integrated himself into every aspect of Bell’s life and manipulated Bell and his family into trusting him to be alone with him. Bell suffered Peck’s abuse for well over six months while working for Nickelodeon at the age of 15. The discomfort escalates with each episode, as there are an array of issues with Nickelodeon during this time.

Bell and Peck eventually went to court, where Peck was ultimately charged with 11 counts, including lewd acts with a minor. In “Breaking the Silence,” Bell delves further into the lack of support he received in the courtroom during his trial and how he manages his trauma today.

Peck’s mountain of support from people in the industry with strong reputations, Bell said, added to the isolation he felt at the time. 

“It was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen,” Bell said. “His entire side of the courtroom was full and my side was me, my mom, and my brother.”

Business Insider journalist Kate Taylor discussed in the show the powerful move her team made in order to unseal the letters of support Peck had received during the time of the trial, many of which were written by notable Nickelodeon stars.

Boy Meets World cast members Rider Strong and Will Friedle wrote letters in support of Brian Peck at the time of the trial and have recently spoken about that decision on their podcast, Pod Meets World.

“We’re sitting in that courtroom on the wrong side of everything,” Friedle said. “I just sat there wanting to die. It was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?”

Bell has begun to find new ways to channel his trauma, one of which is through songwriting. His newest single, “I Kind Of Relate,” highlights his experience through his lyrics and the music video.

Bell describes how his outlet was through songwriting: “A lot of times my emotions and inner thoughts and what I’d been through would creep up and get in the way,” Bell said. “I expressed what I was feeling through music. I think that was my therapy, really, at that time.”