This Eye-Opening Documentary Just Shattered One of My Favorite Childhood Memories

The rose-tinted glasses are off

nickelodeon documentary quiet on set drake

As a kid, I adored Nickelodeon. The mere sight of that bright orange logo was enough to make me giddy, and I can't tell you how many hours I've spent cackling as I watched classics like iCarly, Victorious and Drake & Josh.

Getting slimed was a rite of passage that I dreamed about, and I longed for a PearBook like Zoey and her crew in Zoey101. In short, Nickelodeon practically raised me. But little did I know that this deceptively bright and innocent child-friendly network masked an underbelly of toxic work environments and horrific scandals.

In case you've missed all the headlines, Investigation Discovery's documentary series, Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the disturbing world of children’s television during the late 1990s and 2000s. The five-part series offers insight into the career of Dan Schneider—a producer and screenwriter who faced multiple misconduct allegations—and features interviews with former child actors. Among those actors is Drake Bell, who, for the first time, shared his heartbreaking story about the abuse he endured while working for the network.

Bell came forward as the anonymous child star who was sexually assaulted by Brian Peck—a former actor and dialogue coach who was arrested and charged in 2003 for child sexual abuse. And while opening up about Peck's sentencing, Bell recalls seeing Peck's side of the courtroom filled with supporters, while his side just included his immediate family. He says, "Brian had been convicted, but getting all of this support from a lot of people in the industry, and I was pretty shocked."

He continues, "I addressed my statement to everyone in the room I looked at all of them, and I just said 'How dare you?' I said, 'You will forever have the memory of sitting in this courtroom and defending this person, and I will forever have the memory of the person you're defending, violating me.'"

In addition to Bell's traumatic experience, the documentary sheds light on other disturbing accounts (like one All That star being covered in peanut butter and licked by dogs). Female staffers reported blatant sexism, and two other staffers at Nickelodeon were convicted of sexual offenses.

This must-watch docuseries is both hard to watch and a must-watch. The same network that gave me so much joy as a child seems to have hired some seriously sinister and toxic individuals, and, to be honest, I'm still grappling with this fact. How can I not wonder about the horrifying things these stars went through privately, as they faithfully showed up for work and tried to make young viewers laugh?

Of course, this isn't to suggest that my discomfort with these awful revelations is what matters most here. (Although I suspect that several other Nickelodeon fans share this sentiment.) This is just one disillusioned fan's attempt to process these shocking and dark truths. I naively thought that what happened behind the scenes reflected what I watched on screen. I assumed that cast members were living their best lives and making tons of new friends. Heck, there were times when I wished I could be a cast member on some of these shows.

But I commend all the brave actors and staff members who shared their stories, and most importantly, I hope their bravery will lead to more discussions about protecting child actors.

You can stream the first four episodes of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV on Max and Discovery+. The fifth and final episode is set to premiere on April 7.

nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...