5 TV Show Sets That Were Allegedly Super Toxic

From Grey's Anatomy to iCarly, the behind-the-scenes drama on these sets was off the charts.

Nothing's quite like the feeling of watching a new television show and being swept away by the drama of it all. Who doesn't love to escape their own reality for the evening? But for some TV series, the real drama happened when the cameras weren't even rolling. From sexual misconduct allegations to drinking on the job, these sets did not seem to have the best environment for the cast and crew. Read on to learn about five TV show sets that were allegedly super toxic.

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Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove in 'iCarly'

This hit Nickelodeon comedy starring Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy aired for six seasons from 2007 to 2012. Unfortunately, the hilarious lines and kid-like fun weren't so magical for one of the stars on set.

McCurdy who booked the role of Sam when she was just 15, wrote about her experience on set in her best-selling memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died.

She references a boss at the time who she calls, "The Creator," who would force her to drink alcohol on set and rub her shoulders in a manner that made her extremely uncomfortable. Though she doesn't directly name him, Dan Schneider, who wrote and produced iCarly for all six seasons, has had several allegations against him for misconduct.

After she decided to leave iCarly's spin off show, Sam & Cat, McCurdy alleges that Nickelodeon attempted to bribe her with money to keep her quiet.

"Nickelodeon is offering me three hundred thousand dollars in hush money to not talk publicly about my experience on the show? My personal experience of The Creator's abuse?" McCurdy wrote in her memoir. "This is a network with shows made for children. Shouldn't they have some sort of moral compass? Shouldn't they at least try to report to some sort of ethical standard?"

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill scene with Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush
The CW

For six seasons, Sophia Bush played the beloved character, Brooke Davis, on One Tree Hill. And while the show was full of drama you could cut with a knife, it's what happened behind the scenes that was even more shocking.

During Ashley Graham's podcast, Pretty Big Deal, Bush talks about her time filming the show. "There was this sort of really weird thing…you look back at it, at the time I didn't realize how inappropriate it was, but again, this is a long time ago," Bush said. "I remember my boss kept writing scenes for me to be in my underwear."

"I was like, 'I'm not doing this, this is inappropriate.' Like, I don't think this is what we should be teaching 16-year-old girls to be doing, and to be seeking validation this way. And I said, 'If you want somebody to do it so badly, get somebody else to do it.' And he literally said to me, 'Well you're the one with the big f–king rack everybody wants to see.'"

In 2017, an ex One Tree Hill writer, Audrey Wauchope, wrote a series of disturbing tweets about the sexual harassment she experienced during her time working on the show. Upon reading the tweets, 18 female cast and crew members, including Bush, put together a letter, recalling the inappropriate events that happened on set.

Part of the letter reads, "Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be."

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The OC

A scene in the OC season one in bed.
The Fox Broadcasting Company

The OC was a modern soap drama that followed beautiful California teens going through love, lust, heartache, and more. And while this show had its fair share of incidents, when the cameras stopped rolling, that's when the cattiness began.

One of the stars, Mischa Barton told E! News that she was mistreated by a lot of the people on set. "There were people on that set that were very mean to me," she said. "It wasn't, like, the most ideal environment for a young, sensitive girl who's also been thrust into stardom to have to put up with."

Barton and Rachel Bilson (another lead of the show) also allegedly had a not so great relationship. In an interview with Elle, Barton throws some awkward shade at her co-star. "She's way more overtly sexual than I am," Barton said. "She is so petite and I am so tall and lanky. I think I'd be scared of having her voluptuousness. I like being understatedly sexy."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer scene with a lighter
20th Century Fox/

This iconic show revolved around vampires and monsters, but the on-screen scenes were tame compared to what took place in reality.

In 2021, Charisma Carpenter, who played demon hunter Cordelia Chase came out with allegations against the show's creator, Joss Whedon.

In a tweet, Carpenter wrote, "Joss Whedon abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The disturbing incidents triggered a chronic physical condition from which I still suffer. It is with a beating, heavy heart that I say I coped in isolation and, at times, destructively."

From there, Sarah Michelle Gellar, the lead star of the show, rallied with her co-star against Whedon.

In an Instagram post, Gellar wrote, "While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don't want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon. I will not be making any further statement at this time. But I stand with all survivors of abuse and am proud of them for speaking out."

Gellar then decided to share her own experience working on set. During the "Power of Storytelling: Producers Roundtable" at the The Wrap's Power of Women Summit, Gellar said, "For so long, I was on a set that I think was known for being an extremely toxic male set, and so that was ingrained in my head that that was what all sets were like, and that women were pitted against each other—that if women became friends, then we became too powerful, so you had to keep that down."

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Grey's Anatomy

Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsy in Greys Anatomy

If you've seen Grey's Anatomy, you know it comes with lots of accidents, blood, and of course drama. But with a cast as large as this, it was inevitable that there would also be theatrics cooking up behind the scenes.

Ellen Pompeo, who has been playing Meredith Grey since the show aired, hasn't been tight-lipped about what has happened on set over the years. "The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment," she said in an interview with Variety.

When speaking about salaries, Pompeo said that Patrick Dempsy who played the beloved character, Derek Shepard, was paid more than her when first starting out. To make matters worse, Pompeo didn't even know she was allowed to negotiate her pay. "I didn't even realize until we were renegotiating season three. No one was offering that up," she said.

Pompeo isn't the only star who had issues with how the show was run. Isaiah Washington, who played Dr. Preston Burke from 2005 to 2007, also chimed in about how he was treated on set. Washington told Tavis Smiley from KBLA Talk 1580 radio, "Every single day I was a problem that was being reminded, 'You're No. 4 on the call sheet. You're not the star of this show,"' he said.

Another original star of the show, Katherine Heigl who played Izzie Stevens had issues with how much her and her co-stars were working. In an interview with David Letterman she said, "Our first day back was Wednesday. It was—I'm going to keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them—a 17-hour day, which I think is cruel and mean."

Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
Lauren Jarvis-Gibson is an Associate Editor at Best Life. Her work has been published in Teen Vogue, Allure, HuffPost, and more. Read more
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