Christy Carlson Romano poses at TheWrap's 2022 Annual Changemakers List VIP Dinner

Christy Carlson Romano on ‘Quiet on Set’ Doc: ‘These Are Trauma Tourists’

Christy Carlson Romano reveals she has not watched Quiet on Set and rejected doing a documentary with the show’s network, Investigation Discovery, as she feels it’s not the most effective way to protect children from abuse in the industry.

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Romano was a child star herself back in the early 2000s. She is best known for starring in the lead role of Ren Stevens in Disney Channel’s Even Stevens sitcom, as well as for voicing the titular character in Kim Possible. In recent years, she has begun speaking out about her experiences in the industry and allowed other fellow actors to share their stories and experiences through her self-titled YouTube channel and her Vulernable podcast. She also works for the Entertainment Community Fund, which has a program, Looking Ahead, to help child actors and their families navigate the industry safely. Hence, some may have been surprised to hear her disinterest in Quiet on Set.

Quiet on Set is a docuseries that delves into the abuse that went on behind the scenes during Nickelodeon’s Golden Age. It uncovers how racism, sexism, and inappropriate jokes and behavior toward minors were common on Dan Schneider’s sets. Additionally, it investigates three child predators whom Nick employed during that time.

While the docuseries has received widespread attention and been praised for raising awareness of the dangers lurking in the child acting industry, some concerns have also arisen. Both Marc Summers and Raquel Lee Bolleau have come forward, alleging that the producers never even told them the subject of the docuseries and criticizing the lack of transparency, ethics, and sensitivity of the series. Now, Romano is also weighing in on the docuseries.

Why Christy Carlson Romano didn’t watch Quiet on Set

While appearing on Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown podcast, Romano addressed Quiet on Set, confirming she would not be watching the docuseries. Part of the reason was that it was an “extremely triggering” project. However, she also questioned the effectiveness of such projects.

She revealed she was once approached by Investigation Discovery about participating in a similar docuseries, although she does not know if it was Quiet on Set or a different project. In fact, she alleges multiple “reality-show-type” producers approached her after she began advocating for change through her YouTube channel.

She rejected ID, though, along with other offers, because none of them were concerned about fixing the problem instead of just filming it. Romano said, “I started to be approached by many reality-show-type producers, and they were like, ‘Hey, how do we do this?’ and I would combat them by saying, ‘Hey, guys, the only way we would do this is if we talk about how do we fix it?'”

She also stated that through her film studies and conversations with fellow former child star Alyson Stoner, she has grown to understand the meaning of “trauma porn.” Romano explained:

I actually have a degree from Columbia in film, and you know, we know that the art of montage and the collision of images is going to incite a certain kind of emotion. That is what documentary filmmaking in social movements is meant to do. And so we’re so manipulated by media, and we have so many little cut-downs of misinformation and things being thrown, that the echo chambers, to me, are not helpful.

Two other issues she had with Quiet on Set are that hope wasn’t inserted into the narrative, and the docuseries was created by individuals who were not part of the community of former child actors and had never had many of their experiences. It might not be so bad if these “outsiders” were devoted to fixing the problem. However, Romano points out they often maintain that “outsider” perspective, making them little more than “trauma tourists.”

While Romano doesn’t think Quiet on Set is the most effective way to bring about change, she has ideas for better ways. She explained that people need to recognize the problem as a “child labor issue” and need a union that offers children the same protections on set that an adult would have. One suggestion she brought up to her Looking Ahead advisory committee was to have assistant directors on set announce “minors on set” in the same way they would announce “guns on set” or “alligators on set.” There just needs to be awareness that the actors on set are not just actors, but minors. The whole set needs to be allowed to adjust to acknowledge the presence of minors and make the environment safe. Unfortunately, Romano added that she feels minors are “being underserviced as union workers.”

Romano makes an interesting point about Quiet on Set. While it has attracted attention and raised awareness, it does raise the question of whether any action is being taken. There has been lots of vague talk about change and reform, but there is little evidence of any brainstorming, funding, or pushing to bring about that change from those with the power to do so. Without action, it’s difficult to qualify Quiet on Set as much more than painful entertainment for viewers.

(via Variety, featured image: Robin L. Marshall / Getty)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.