“The Amanda Show,” “Drake & Josh,” “ iCarly,” “Victorious.” These are just a few of Nickelodeon’s iconic shows that are staples of so many Gen Z childhoods. While these shows share a network and many of the same stars, the most prominent shared trait among them is the man behind the scenes: Dan Schneider.
Schneider has been a television producer for Nickelodeon since 1993 when he was hired to work on its new show “All That.” Following the success of the sketch comedy series, he then went on to create other Nickelodeon productions, many of which have been deemed as the channel’s most defining and popular works. In 2018, nearly 30 years later, Schneider’s time with the network has ended. On what terms his decades-long career at the network ended remains a mystery.
According to a joint statement, Schneider and Nickelodeon mutually agreed that it was a “natural” time to part ways, especially since many of the producer’s projects were coming to an end. This decision has caused some speculation, most likely due to the many troubling allegations against Schneider leading up to his departure from the network. With reports of verbally abusive behavior (and rumors of a passionate foot fetish), it’s easy to wonder if Schneider’s termination was really as amicable as the children’s TV channel claims.
Nickelodeon shows are targeted for kids — they’re funny, ridiculous and lighthearted. That’s what makes the allegations against Schneider so disturbing and hard to accept. But, if you rewatch some of these shows today, it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the picture Nickelodeon cast members have painted of him. Even on the screen, young actresses were often oversexualized and involved in innuendo-laden situations, specifically in “Victorious.”
For instance, in one episode, Ariana Grande’s character, Cat, is shown attempting to suck on her own toe. This scene, among others, leads us to Schneider’s concerningly excessive incorporation of stars’ feet in his shows and on his personal social media accounts. If that isn’t weird enough, he even posted asking followers to “please NAME Sam’s toes,” a reference to “iCarly” child actor Jennette McCurdy.
The long-term effects of Schneider’s alleged abuse have become apparent to many former viewers of his content. Amanda Bynes (“Easy A”) was Nickelodeon’s “it-girl” in the early 2000s and Schneider’s protégé after he recruited her for the channel when she was nine years old. Bynes starred in his first productions “All That,” “What I Like About You” and “The Amanda Show.” This was seemingly the actress’s ticket to fame — she was soon cast in fan favorites like “She’s the Man” (2006) and “Hairspray” (2007). However, between 2012 and 2015, the young star struggled greatly with mental health issues, which some believe resulted from years of Schneider’s inappropriate behavior and short temperament, both of which he never seemed to be held accountable for.
As the #MeToo movement gained traction in 2017, many people felt empowered to share their stories of sexual abuse. Within a year’s time of the movement’s popularity, Schneider’s decades-long partnership with Nickelodeon came to an abrupt ending. No matter what Nickelodeon tries to assert, this does not seem like a coincidence. If the #MeToo movement has made anything clear, it is that with diligence and expertise, Hollywood can conceal any act of misconduct that occurs within the entertainment industry’s domain — this could have easily been the case with Schneider.
With Netflix’s revival of “iCarly” comes a resurgence of the love and admiration so many have for Nickelodeon. But alongside this nostalgia, it’s crucial to remember that many of these characters who we so desperately wanted to be as children were child stars who didn’t sign up for what might have happened behind the scenes.
With the pressure to succeed and the exposure to an abundance of negative publicity, being a child actor is difficult. While being denied a normal childhood, the hidden manipulation by those in power is what robbed these stars of a stable future.
Whether Dan Schneider has contributed to this manipulation is still up for debate. Yet, with the unavoidable suspicion that continues to loom years after the producer’s departure, it is safe to assume that his legacy will forever be tarnished.
Daily Arts Writer Molly Hirsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.