Unveiling the Dark Past of Nickelodeon

By Kenzie Smith, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Trigger Warning: This article contains details of sexual and emotional abuse that may be triggering for some readers.

Hollywood is not a stranger to scandals, but when kids are involved, the backlash appears to be far greater. The concerning behavior of American television producer and screenwriter

Dan Schneider toward the young cast members of Nickelodeon shows in the 90s and 2000s has been mentioned by the public for years, but with the recent publication of Jennette McCurdy’s book “I’m Glad my Mom Died” and release of “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” the conversation has been given a new spotlight.

Schneider has produced hit shows such as “The Amanda Show,” “All That,” “Drake & Josh,” “iCarly,” “Victorious” and others. Although Schneider has various allegations against him from cast members of many of these shows, some of the greatest concern is given to Amanda Bynes, star of “The Amanda Show.”

There is no way to know the full extent of the relationship and possible abuse that happened to Bynes by Schneider as she has not spoken on her experience, but sinister motives and occurrences have been speculated. One specific moment that has not sat well with people is a scene in “The Amanda Show” where Amanda, in a bathing suit, and Schneider, fully clothed, are in a hot tub together. “Quiet on Set” further points out the oddly close relationship of the two, specifically highlighting the heavy involvement Schneider had in Bynes’ personal life, like when he attempted to help Bynes get emancipated from her parents.

“The Amanda Show” writers for the first season Jenny Kilgen and Christy Stratton were also recipients of Schneider’s cruel actions. Allegations exist of Schneider threatening Kilgen with never working for Nickelodeon again if she spoke out about how the two female writers had to split a single shared salary. Other allegations of abusive behavior toward the women exist, such as when, as detailed on “Quiet on Set,” Schneider coerced Stratton into bending over a table and pretending to be sodomized.

Kilgen ended up quitting on the second season of the show after Schneider allegedly made a joke about her working as a phone sex worker, which, among other reasons, led her to file a gender discrimination complaint; she would later agree to a settlement.

Scenes and treatment of the casts of other shows produced by Schneider have also become heavily discussed due to weird, sexual innuendos to Schneider’s constant filming behind the scenes of “Victorious” and “iCarly.” Former fans of the shows mention the overwhelming clips of bare feet in both of these shows and their assumptions of the contents relation to foot fetishes. There is also concerning and presumably inappropriate video content of pop sensation and former “Victorious” star Ariana Granda, such as when she hangs upside down off a bed and tries to see if she can “drink water upside down,” which results in her pouring water all over herself. Other videos include Grande trying to squeeze a potato to get juice out of it while she makes grunting sounds and a clip in which she says she believes no one else on Earth has said, “Oh man my uvula got stuck between that hamster’s toes,” which is followed by her sticking her finger in the back of her throat and wincing slightly.

In “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” McCurdy claims “The Creator,” presumably referring to Schneider, told her that the “Victorious” cast got drunk often in an attempt to persuade McCurdy to try an alcoholic beverage.

Schneider is not the only person on the teams of these Nickelodeon shows to have such accusations against them. Crew member of “The Amanda Show” and “All That” Jason Handy sent sexually explicit pictures to children, had a collection of child pornography and wrote in a journal about how he struggled to find a “victim to rape” and called himself “a pedophile, full blown,” which was found by law enforcement in a 2003 search of his house. This search led to Handy being sentenced to six years in prison.

It was also revealed in “Quiet on Set” that Schneider’s colleague Brian Peck sexually abused star of “Drake & Josh” Drake Bell. Peck received a conviction of child sex abuse in 2004, but the identity of Bell, since he was a minor at the time, had been hidden until the airing of the docuseries. Peck was able to become a large part of Bell’s life, which led to him spending some nights at Peck’s house when Bell’s work and audition schedule was packed. 

“He had pretty much worked his way into every aspect of my life,” Bell said in his interview for “Quiet on Set.”

Peck only received a sentence of sixteen months for his 2004 conviction and was able to continue working in television series with child actors after his release.

Nickelodeon responded to the reveal of Bell as a victim of Peck: “Now that Drake Bell has disclosed his identity as the plaintiff in the 2004 case, we are dismayed and saddened to learn of the trauma he has endured, and we commend and support the strength required to come forward.”

Nickelodeon, as well as Dan Schneider, have made other statements in response to the allegations presented in “Quiet on Set.”

In a Los Angeles Times article Tracy Brown and Meredith Blake detail these statements, such as the one from Nickelodeon stating, “Though we cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct. Our highest priorities are the well-being and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children, and we have adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to our own high standards and the expectations of our audience.”

Schneider himself even did an interview with former “iCarly” actor BooG!e where he addressed some of the topics brought up in “Quiet on Set.” Schneider apologized for some of his past behaviors but also denied some of the allegations. 

“I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” Schneider said. “When I watched [“Quiet on Set”] I could see the hurt in some people’s eyes and it made me feel awful and regretful and sorry.”

Schneider also explained that he was not able to produce anything he wanted and claimed that all aspects of the show had to receive approval from his bosses. Some members of the shows Schneider directed his apologies toward do not believe he is being sincere. 

A “Vulture” article detailed former “All That” cast member Bryan Hearn’s response: “If I could be candid, Dan was an actor before all of this and so I think that he brushed off some chops and gave us a nice performance. Where was all of this apologizing when Jeanette McCurdy’s book came out?”

Hearn added, “What’s an apology without accountability?”

This article originally appeared on pages 16 to 17 of the No. 2 April 2024 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

Author: Kenzie Smith

Kenzie Smith ’26 is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Gettysburgian. Previously, she served as a Staff Writer for the News and Arts & Entertainment sections. Kenzie is an English with a writing concentration major and Environmental Studies minor originally hailing from Everett, PA. Outside The Gettysburgian, Kenzie is a tour guide for the Admissions Office, a writing tutor for the Writing Center, and a contributing editor for The Mercury. In her free time, you can find Kenzie listening to music, writing poetry, and hanging out with friends.

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