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High tension: The most toxic sets in TV show history

Throughout TV history there have been many reports of toxic on-set behavior: abuse, harassment, and assault. Here are nine of the worst examples.

High tension: The most toxic sets in TV show history

It’s been a thunderous year for the entertainment industry, as the sexual harassment scandal has steadily engulfed Hollywood over the past several months.

Following her final episode on NCIS, Pauley Perrette explained she left the long running CBS show after alleging she suffered “multiple physical assaults” and was apparently forced to remain silent. Perrette encouraged fellow victims to stay safe, stressing that “nothing is worth your safety – tell someone.”

On Twitter, the fan favorite star of the show shared, “I feel I have to protect my crew, jobs, and so many people. But at what cost? I don’t know. Just know, I’m trying to do the right thing, but maybe silence isn’t the right thing about crime.”

In a later tweet, Perrette further added, “There is a ‘machine’ keeping me silent, and feeding false stories about me. A very rich, very powerful publicity ‘machine’. No morals, no obligation to truth, and I’m just left here, reading the lies, trying to protect my crew. Trying to remain calm. He did it.”

CBS responded to the allegations in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter: “Pauley Perrette had a terrific run on NCIS and we are all going to miss her. Over a year ago, Pauley came to us with a workplace concern. We took the matter seriously and worked with her to find a resolution. We are committed to a safe work environment on all our shows.”

In the past couple years there have been numerous allegations regarding toxic on-set environments involving abuse, harassment, and assault. However, this is nothing new – throughout TV history there have been many reports of toxic on-set abuse. Here are nine of the worst examples.

ONE TREE HILL

One Tree Hill (2003 – 2012)

Hilarie Burton (who played Peyton Sawyer in the hit teen show) alleged to Variety that One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn perpetrated years of harassment and assault against herself and other women on the show.

The star claimed Schwahn was verbally abusive, spread false rumors about physical relationships with female cast members, pitted women against each other, and even touched Burton inappropriately in front of his wife. Former One Tree Hill writer Stacy Rukeyser (UnREAL) went on to write an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter that further damned the toxic environment of the writers room as having a “frat house” vibe.

The X-Files (1993 – )

It’s hard to believe Mulder & Scully were anything other than adorable to one another on and off set, but apparently the reality was far different. Gillian Anderson (American Gods) once revealed, “There were definitely periods when we hated each other,” when talking about the on-set tension between herself and David Duchovny (Californication).

Meanwhile Duchovny told the Radio Times that the success of the show created turmoil between the two stars. “At times we were nuts with one another, where she (Anderson) was acting crazy or I was acting crazy, or we were both acting crazy.”

The Flash (2014 – )

Warner Bros. Television cut all ties with The Flash showrunner Andrew Kreisberg following sexual harassment claims from multiple women.

Kreisberg was accused of creating “a hostile work environment” with what was alleged as being “inappropriate” behavior towards female staff. One young female writer alleged that he created such a “toxic” work environment that she wanted to leave her job position immediately.

Moonlighting (1985 – 1989)

The classic 80s hit harbored some notorious on-set tension thought to be why the show was cancelled in its prime. An ABC spokesperson revealed to People that there was high tension on set from the start, which meant scripts were often late and the actors had little time to study their lines. “Bruce and Cybill got antsy because the atmosphere was volatile.”

Stranger Things (2016 – )

A former employee of the hit Netflix Originals show accused showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer of being verbally abusive to their female employees. The brothers later responded, “We are deeply upset to learn that someone felt uncomfortable on our set.

Due to the high-stress nature of production, tempers occasionally get frayed, and for that, we apologize.” Prior to this controversy they also faced backlash when fans accused them of pressuring young star Sadie Sink (The Glass Castle) into doing an unscripted kissing scene that she felt uncomfortable with.

Desperate Housewives (2004 – 2012)

Infamous for its on-set tension, the soapy dramedy has a history of cast members not getting along. Nicollette Sheridan (Dynasty) also sued the show’s creator Marc Cherry (The Golden Girls) and ABC Studios for alleged physical assault, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination. The case was dismissed.

The Man in High Castle (2015 – )

Amazon executive Roy Price was accused of sexually harassing producer Isa Dick Hackett during an Amazon staff party. The executive – who has since resigned from Amazon Studios – was accused of such charmless behavior as telling her “you will love my dick” and shouting “anal sex” into her ear.

Charles in Charge (1984 – 1990)

Alexander Polinsky (Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings) & Nicole Eggert (The Haunting of Morella) both claimed Scott Baio (Arrested Development) sexually abused them on the set of the 80s sitcom. The actor said the allegations were “false claims” and stated, “I am hurt and I am angry, but mostly, I am stunned that anybody can be so cruel to attack not just me, but my family.”

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – )

The Shonda Rhimes (Scandal) hospital drama has a history of on-set drama and tension, including Isaiah Washington (Hollywood Homicide) confessing to using a homophobic slur against T.R. Knight (The Catch) that prompted the actor to come out, as well as alleged conflicts involving star Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up).

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Amy Roberts is a freelance writer who occasionally moonlights as a hapless punk musician. She’s written about pop culture for websites like Bustle, i-D, and The Mary Sue, and is the co-creator of Clarissa Explains F*ck All. She likes watching horror movies with her cat and eating too much sugar.

amy@filmdaily.co

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