Mayim Bialik Reveals Quiet On Set Abuse Wasn’t Only Happening At Nickelodeon: ‘It’s Considered Par For The Course’

Mayim Bialik Reveals Quiet On Set Abuse Wasn’t Only Happening At Nickelodeon: ‘It’s Considered Par For The Course’

When Investigation Discovery’s headline-making docuseries Quiet on Set debuted, audiences were shocked to discover many of the unsavory and traumatic incidents that occurred between the cast and crew of some of Nickelodeon’s most popular shows. Waves of conversations have been had in the aftermath, with a wide variety of former child stars like Melissa Joan Hart speaking out about their experiences, usually to point out how unhinged things were during that era compared to other times. But Blossom and Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik said it stemmed from the kinds of behavior that were commonplace, and it wasn’t just a Nickelodeon thing.

For her hit podcast Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown, the host and former co-star Jenna Von Oy welcomed guest Christy Carlson Romano, the Even Stevens vet and fellow podcasting advocate, for a discussion that hewed closely to Quiet on Set and where child actors fit into the industry as a whole. And even though not that many years have passed since the time period central to the docuseries, Bialik addressed how it was still a world away from where things are currently, saying:

This was so much a part of an acceptable way to run a business. That felt like the most devastating thing, and it wasn’t just happening at Nickelodeon.

The fact that actors were taken advantage of, yelled at, and abused was bad enough in standalone circumstances, but it being an industry-wide issue is a difficult idea to reckon with. Bialik reluctantly addressed the idea that this was also a time when females in the writers room were exceedingly rare, and that they tended to get yelled at in cases where they were part of the staff. She also acknowledged that as teens, even they made jokes that would be considered horrifying by today’s standards.

But it was a worse situation for the children working on sets who didn’t have anyone in place to advocate for their safety and comfort. And not even parents were necessarily the key safety net, as All That vet Bryan Hearne talked about being fired after his mom raised a fuss about how he was being treated by producers. (For example, he was forced to let a dog lick peanut butter off of him for one of Nickelodeon’s stunt specials, and says he was called insulting nicknames for being Black.)

On the flip side, some parents apparently turned a blind eye to such things, which Bialik also addressed:

The notion that you’re watching a slice of time. You’re watching what the entire culture was like. This is not what happened because ‘Nickelodeon this-that.’ Of course, it touched me personally. Of course it did. But what it also reminded me of is how far we had to come to get to a place where people like Christy get to advocate and we know what she means when she says, the mental health of children on set matters and there are things that we can do to make sure that there are no exceptions. ‘You don’t get to push that child.’ And if the mother says it’s okay, then guess what? The mother’s wrong.

One of the most disturbing things about the docuseries to Mayim Bialik was the revelation of how many actors and crew members went to bat for convicted sexual abuser Brian Peck after he'd legitimately recorded a confession regarding his actions with Amanda Show vet Drake Bell, who spoke out about his trauma for the first time. She talked about trying to wrap her brain around that idea, saying:

It occurred to me, the only way I could make sense of it was — I said to Jonathan — it must have been at that time that people didn’t know there was a recorded confession, or worse yet and more painful, people may not have believed what they heard if they heard it. And the highest level of grossness and obscenity was the notion that these things occurred at a time — forget about what happened at Nickelodeon — these things occurred at a time when you could accuse a child of seducing a grown adult. When I think about that, it warps the mind, and that’s where I have to find hope, and I have to have gratitude that we do not live in a time where you are allowed to say that a child can ever do anything to seduce or tempt or incite an adult to violate them, emotionally, physically, spiritually or sexually.

While some of the people who wrote complimentary letters have come out to apologetically denounce their past actions, many others have stayed mum on the subject.

And while much of the conversation was angled positively, in terms of the awareness that was raised by the docuseries and the steps being taken to make sure Hollywood never slides back into that rut, Christy Carlson Romano still took issue with the producers and directors involved, decrying them as "trauma tourists" and saying she turned down the offer to appear.

It's unclear whether or not any further actions will be taken, but audiences can still stream Quiet on Set with a Max subscription, complete with the additional fifth episode that contained follow-up interviews.