Drake & Josh was one of the most popular children’s shows of the early 2000s. Starring Drake Bell and Josh Peck, and including a young Miranda Cosgrove, the sitcom was one of Nickelodeon’s most successful projects from that time.
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It was easy for young fans to believe that Drake and Josh were friends behind the scenes like they were on camera, and their private lives mimicked the idealized lives lived out by their characters. The truth, when it finally came out, left fans disillusioned and upset.
The Rise of Drake & Josh
It all started with another Nickelodeon show. The Amanda Show, starring Amanda Bynes, was a live variety show that ran from October 1999 to September 2002. Drake Bell also starred on the show, and Josh Peck was featured.
After The Amanda Show, showrunner Dan Schneider decided that Bell and Peck had good chemistry on-screen and should have their own show. Pulling others from The Amanda Show cast, Drake & Josh began production.
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Drake & Josh was a sitcom that capitalized on the different strengths of its stars. Drake Bell played Drake Parker, an aspiring musician and ladies’ man. He’s the step-brother of Josh Peck’s Josh Nichols, an overweight, clumsy, and hilarious kid. The show featured Bell’s music and Peck’s physical comedy.
The show followed the antics of Drake and Josh as they navigated teenage life, with an antagonist in the form of little sister Megan (played by Miranda Cosgrove) thrown into the mix. Drake & Josh ran for 4 seasons and had two spin-off movies. By the end of its run, both Bell and Peck were directing episodes.
The Early Struggles That Shaped Josh Peck
Whether it was on the small screen or in the pages of teen magazines, many fans of Drake & Josh assumed that the lives of its leads were as idyllic as the lives of the characters they played. And according to Drake Bell, he had a great time making the show. It wasn’t until 2022 that the public found out that, behind the scenes, Josh Peck was battling his weight and a drug addiction during the filming of Drake & Josh.
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Leading up to The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh, Peck’s life was far from perfect. He has never met his father, leading to a lifelong search for role models and validation. He was often teased by his classmates for his weight and social awkwardness.
“I spent most of my life dying to be typical but I grew up with a single mom, I was overweight and I was a musical theater kid who really had no social status,” Peck told PEOPLE. “Comedy was my natural defense mechanism.”
Josh Peck’s Struggles With Addiction and Overeating
Peck began doing stand-up comedy at the age of eight, and his talent only grew from there. But his comedy was hiding very real issues that we was going to have to grapple with.
“I was always looking for something outside to fix my insides,” Peck told PEOPLE, referring to his drug abuse and overeating. “But eventually I realized that whether my life was beyond my wildest dreams or a total mess, it didn’t change the temperature of what was going on in my mind. I knew that nothing in the outside world would make me feel whole.”
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Looking to feel better about himself, Peck lost 127 pounds in an 18-month timespan while filming Drake & Josh. When that didn’t bring him happiness, he turned to drugs and alcohol. “I used food and drugs to numb my feelings,” he explained.
Things came to a head when he collapsed on the set of Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh. He finally got sober in 2008. With Drake & Josh wrapping up, he was offered movie roles and was soon engaged. Things were looking up for Josh Peck.
The Wedding Invite Snub That Made Headlines
When Peck married his fiancée Paige O’Brien in 2017, he famously didn’t invite Drake Bell to the wedding. This was the person Peck had looked up to for years, and he didn’t warrant an invite. Bell took to Twitter to air his grievances, tweeting, “When you’re not invited to the wedding the message is clear. True colors have come out today. Message is loud and clear. Ties are officially cut. I’ll miss you brotha.” Fans began attacking Peck. Some went so far as to yell at him in the street for not inviting his “brother” to his wedding.
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Bell publically spoke about the incident in interviews, speculating that this was Josh’s way of “getting back” at Bell for not inviting him to his small-scale wedding a few years prior.
As it turns out, Peck and O’Brien were overwhelmed with the wedding-planning details. Peck admitted that O’Brien handled the invitations, which may also explain the choice. Peck made it clear, that, despite what fans wanted to hear, the two were not always close, and had naturally drifted apart over the years. By 2017, they had fallen out of touch completely.
Drake & Josh’s Abuse Scandal
In July 2021, Drake Bell pled guilty to attempted endangering children, a felony, and disseminating harmful materials to juveniles, a misdemeanor, after a young woman came forward and accused him of predatory and abusive behavior. The 19-year-old, whose name was not disclosed to the press, alleges that Bell began grooming her when she was 12. At age 15, she attended one of Bell’s concerts, after which he sexually assaulted her.
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Bell managed to get away without serving jail time, instead facing 2 years on probation and 200 hours of community service. Peck continued to distance himself from Bell, reiterating that the two were not close.
While things crumbled around Bell, Peck’s life was also about to change – for the better.
The News That Changed Josh Peck’s Life Forever
In 2018, Peck and O’Brien announced that they were expecting their first child. The couple chose to not know the baby’s sex – leaving Peck to worry about what was to come.
Peck admitted that he was hoping to have a daughter. He didn’t have a father figure growing up, he reasoned and had no frame of reference for how to raise a son. In December of 2018, Max Milo Peck was born. Peck was now faced with a new challenge: becoming the father Max deserved.
“I had to correct the negative cycle,” Peck wrote in his memoir, Happy People Are Annoying. “I had to be for him what I wished my dad was for me. There were moments when my son was just a few weeks old that I would just stare at him as he slept. And I knew I was far from doing it perfectly, but I was there. I was present for all of it.”
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Raising 3-year-old Max has remained a challenge for Peck – but one that he’s up to. “He’s figuring out his place on this earth too,” Peck explained in “The School of Greatness” podcast in August 2021. “He’s pushing his limits and trying things. I’ve learned that from my wife, really.’
“I always imagined that I would puff up on my kid and be like, ‘Here are the rules and I’m gonna teach you how to be a man,’” Peck continued. “In reality, it’s about me being nonreactive and giving him gentle guidance about what’s right and what’s not. Obviously, you still have your bottom lines … and my wife leads by example in that way.”
In June 2022 the couple announced that they’re expecting their second child later in the year. With the chance to continue acting and to be a great dad to two kids, we’re confident that Peck will rise to the challenge.
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