Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Television Tuesday: "Quiet on the Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," is Fascinating and Depressing

If you were a child in the 1990s or early 2000s and had cable, the odds are quite good you watched Nickelodeon. For programming geared towards kids, it was that or the Disney channel--and Disney generally cost extra back then. I am one of those youth who adored, "All Than," "Kenan & Kel," "The Amanda Show," and so forth. I was a bit older by the time, "Victorious," "Drake and Josh," "iCarly," and so forth really took off, but I was at least familiar with those programs and their stars (some became quite huge such as Ariana Grande). One thing I've found is that when you're a kid you dream of being famous and how cool it would be to star on those children's shows but when you're an adult you're thankful as Hell you had a normal life and weren't a child star. Docuseries such as, "Quiet on the Set: the Dark Side of Kids TV," helps show how awful things could get for everyone involved in children's programming.

Dan Schneider was like a God at Nickelodeon. He discovered a number of stars, made huge hits, and was the golden boy for the network. He was also a verbally abusive boss who treated women and people of color horribly. Schneider screamed at people, threatened their careers, and often asked the women who worked as writers or costumer-makers to drop what they were doing to give him a neck massage on the set (seriously, the way he asked all these ladies for massages was well-known). Schneider created a terrible work environment for adults as well as children. He was never inappropriate with kids, but created an environment where people did not feel safe to speak freely so it allowed other adults who were predators to prey on kids. Seriously, at least three recorded sexual predators were roaming Nickelodeon and taking advantage of their positions of power.

Multiple former child actors, their parents, and other adults who worked at Nickelodeon share just how terrible things were, with Drake Bell possibly having suffered the most of those who chose to come forward for this docuseries. He was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a producer at Nickelodeon he trusted and thought was a friend. Nickelodeon didn't really care, focusing more on making money than keeping talent safe--although, oddly enough the fact Bell recounts Schneider was surprisingly supportive of him when he came forward about being preyed upon is maybe the one positive mention of Schneider.

"Quiet on the Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," is not exactly shocking as for years upon years we have seen child stars suffer due to the behavior of adults who should have been trustworthy. Whether it is the extensive trauma endured by, "The Little Rascals," Corey Feldman, Drew Barrymore, or plenty of other people, a lot of extensive work needs to be done to ensure child stars are protected and feel comfortable enough to be able to say when they don't feel safe. Hopefully, docuseries such as this can help push for change.

5 out of 5 stars.

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