‘Quiet On Set’ Team Set Out To Show “There Was Clear Intention Behind The Sexualization Of Children On These Sets” – Contenders TV: Doc + Unscripted

‘Quiet On Set’ Team Set Out To Show “There Was Clear Intention Behind The Sexualization Of Children On These Sets” – Contenders TV: Doc + Unscripted

A few years ago, filmmakers Emma Schwartz and Mary Robertson remember taking note of video compilations from old Dan Schneider series that showed children and young teens “enacting scenes that are arguably sexual in nature.”

“One example you see Ariana Grande squeezing a potato, or Ariana Grande — who was then a young teenager — pouring water on her chest and face,” Robertson recalls during a panel at Deadline’s Contenders TV: Documentary + Unscripted event. “And you see Jamie Lynn Spears receiving this squirt of a viscous liquid on her face. And there were many on social media who were asking, ‘Did I grow up watching these clips?’ “

More from Deadline

Their shock over what they found on social media, together with a story about ’90s kids TV in Business Insider, is what prompted the creation of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. The Investigation Discovery docuseries set out to uncover the toxic and dangerous culture on the sets of Schneider’s Nickelodeon children’s shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

RELATED: ‘Quiet On Set’: Dan Schneider, Others React To Investigation Discovery Docuseries

“I was a kid. And so the humor, if you could call it humor, went over my head,” Robertson said. “And if these scenes that featured teenagers that were arguably sexual in nature were made on sets with many adults around, which adult said yes and which adult said no? What was the power dynamic at play?”

RELATED: Former Disney Channel Star Christy Carlson Romano Says She Won’t Watch ‘Quiet On Set’, Calls Docuseries “Extremely Triggering”

Schwartz acknowledges that adults in the ’90s obviously didn’t question such content in the same way that adults can and should be doing today. That’s what Quiet on Set tries to accomplish.

“Maybe these are conversations we’re having in 2024 because we’re at a place in our culture where we can ask questions that were harder to vocalize in the past,” Schwartz tells Deadline. “If you’re a kid, maybe you didn’t understand what was funny, but if an adult in power is laughing, kids will laugh at jokes because you think it’s supposed to be funny. So you laugh. It doesn’t mean you get the joke or you understand the joke.”

RELATED: Contenders TV Doc + Unscripted – Deadline’s Full Coverage

She added: “I think perhaps the example that is most striking to me is the example of just the character Penelope Taint, which was a character that was created for The Amanda Show. Dan Schneider created this character, and he wanted it to be named with a last name that was a vulgar word for a body part, and specifically told the writers, ‘Don’t tell anyone.’ When someone from standards came and [questioned it], he said no, and just flat-out denied it. That was an example of both the power that was held but also the way in which [standards] felt there was clear intention behind the sexualization of children on the programming on these sets.”

RELATED: Deadline Studio At Contenders Television 2024 – Lily Gladstone, Jodie Foster, Owen Wilson, Tom Hiddleston, Giancarlo Esposito, Joey King, Joel Kim Booster and More

RELATED: Deadline Contenders Television 2024 Arrivals & Panels Gallery: Tom Hiddleston, Lily Gladstone, Maya Rudolph, Kali Reis, Jodie Foster, Kurt Russell & More

Check out the panel video above.

cnx.cmd.push(function() { cnx({ settings: { plugins: { pmcAtlasMG: { iabPlcmt: 1, } } }, playerId: "1d932e57-b397-4448-b4b7-d30563744457", mediaId: "917748f8-2258-45ea-b993-fe0ec9e0def1", }).render("connatix_contextual_player_917748f8-2258-45ea-b993-fe0ec9e0def1_6"); });

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.