Like many of you, Nickelodeon was a huge part of my childhood. I always preferred it to Disney, something about the raunchy yet relatable humor just did it for me. The network understood me, and I did it.
A lot of the shows you and I liked were similar to each other. The commonality amongst the shows is due to one person: Dan Schneider. Schneider was a Harvard grad and a fundamental part of Nickelodeon’s rise to prominence in the 90s.
You may not know Dan Schneider, but you know his work. Schneider was the backbone of Nickelodeon for almost two decades. He was the mastermind behind some of the greatest shows Nick ever put out: The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly, Victorious, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger, and The Adventures of Kid Danger. Any 2000’s kids’ humor is partially based on what Schneider found funny.
And while we all sat back listening to Hellen say “that is NOT my job”, Schneider fostered and propagated a culture of verbal abuse, combined with accounts of uncomfortableness amongst coworkers. He was known to be aggressive; yelling at child actors and berating adults in front of their peers.
It gets worst. Few, but some stars have come forward saying that Schneider made them uncomfortable. Jennette McCurdy, well known for playing Sam on “I Carly” and on “Sam and Cat”, stated in her new memoir that he committed a consistent series of actions that made her uncomfortable, such as massaging her, taking pictures of her in bikinis, and encouraging her to drink underage in vulnerable settings.
Schneider’s departure answers why Nickelodeon doesn’t have that same type of humor it used to have. His departure does not answer any questions the public has about the treatment of child actors from 2002-2018 at Nick. Alexa Nikolas, known for playing Nicole on Zoey 101, joined a protest aimed at this type of sentiment against Nickelodeon.
What’s the lesson from this? Some might say Schneider fucked up. Schneider didn’t fuck up, he did exactly what he wanted to. He rose to a powerful spot within a powerful network and made himself seem irreplaceable, so much so that he could get away with actions that would get anyone fired. Schneider was always a monster, a menace, but it was Nickelodeon that allowed this type of behavior to grow and define the intra-workplace customs. The protestors are just, and the lessons can be learned on a societal scale due to the actions of people like Jennette McCurdy and Alexa Nikolas.