A certain subset of the Internet—particularly those who grew up in the Dan Schenider era of Nickelodeon—have been waiting for a deep dive into the questionable culture surrounding some of that network’s biggest hits. After the publication of Jennette McCurdy’s (iCarly, Sam & Cat) memoir, in which she detailed the toxic work environment fostered by Schneider, fans hoped the floodgates would open. Enter Insider.
If you’re someone who watched in horror the compilations of Schneider’s teen stars showing off their feet across his many programs, bad news: journalist Kate Taylor’s investigation only touches on the sexualized content of those Nick shows on a surface level. Few of the young actors went on the record for the piece, though writers and crew members remember that Schneider “relished being ‘with the cool kids’” (read: teenagers), and many acknowledge discomfort with scenes that seemed to cross the line of appropriateness.
Daniella Monet (the oldest of Victorious’s young cast) recalls expressing concern to the network about a scene “in which she ate a pickle while applying lip gloss” which nevertheless went to air. She also felt that some outfits were “not age appropriate.” Other former crew members claim that Schneider would always advocate for the “skimpier options” for his female cast’s wardrobe, including bathing suits (McCurdy writes of one such scenario in her book). Monet, who, along with Alexa Nikolas and Raquel Lee, were the only performers to speak out against the network for the piece, placed the blame not solely on Schneider but on the culture of Nickelodeon as a whole–including her show’s male-dominated writers’ room.
In fact, the piece’s accusations of gender discrimination are its biggest bombshells. One “longtime Nick writer” claimed Schneider “openly stated he didn’t like having female writers in the writers’ room,” and he hired few of them throughout his tenure. A gender discrimination suit brought by an Amanda Show writer in 2000 highlighted his repeated requests for massages from female writers and crew (costumers remember a coworker giving “weekly” massages to Schneider, and his request the woman go under his shirt). Another writer who participated in the suit “wrote that Schneider once pressured her into simulating ‘being sodomized’ while she was telling a story about high school, to her embarrassment.” He would also allegedly give female crew lingering hugs “as a joke.”
This is on top of existing allegations of bullying, something also covered in McCurdy’s book. An investigation by Nickelodeon into Schenider found no evidence of sexual misconduct, but the network cut ties with him in 2018 reportedly for verbal abuse.
The Insider piece may yet be the tip of the iceberg for Schenider’s behavior. Take, for instance, Liz Feldman–the Dead To Me showrunner who wrote for All That as a teen–who declined to comment to Insider but tweeted after Schneider’s exit in 2018, “I worked for Schneider 25 yrs ago. I can confirm inappropriate behavior was happening even then. #metoo.” It seems the full picture has yet to be revealed, and some of these Nick insiders hope McCurdy’s book “will have a domino effect bringing more to light about Schneider and Nickelodeon.” Only time will tell.