The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik was named the host for Jeopardy! Primetime specials, including the upcoming National College Championship, on Wednesday. Executive producer Mike Richards was named the host for the regular weekday Jeopardy!, after a season of special celebrity guest hosts. Richards’ own controversial past has made plenty of headlines, but Bialik’s controversial opinions have also resurfaced, from her views on vaccines to her comments on Harvey Weinstein.
Bialik, 45, shot to fame as a child star in the 1988 Bette Midler movie Beaches, which led to starring roles on television. Her first major series was Blossom, which ran from 1990 to 1995. Today, she is best known for playing Amy Farrah Fowler, who became Sheldon Cooper’s girlfriend and wife on The Big Bang Theory. The Call Me Kat star is also a Ph.D. in neuroscience and hosts the podcast Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to join the Jeopardy! family,” Bialik said in a statement Wednesday. “What started with my 15-year-old repeating a rumor from Instagram that I should guest host the show has turned into one of the most exciting and surreal opportunities of my life! I’m so grateful and excited to continue to work with Mike Richards, and I’m just over the moon to join forces with him and Sony. After all the conversations we’ve had about this partnership, I am just so ready to get started!”
Sony Pictures Television, which produces Jeopardy!, said Bialik would host special primetime episodes of the game show. This includes the upcoming National College Championship, which will air on ABC in 2022. At the same time, she earned rave reviews from fans for her two-week tenure as Jeopardy! From May 31 to June 11, the announcement that she will continue hosting the show brought renewed attention to her controversial opinions.
Bialik’s 2017 New York Times op-ed on Harvey Weinstein
After the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations broke in October 2017, Bialik published a controversial op-ed in the New York Times that many thoughts blamed victims of sexual assault and suggested that women could protect themselves if they dressed modestly. In “Mayim Bialik: Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,” Bialik wrote that she dressed modestly throughout her career and avoided being flirtatious with men. “In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn’t perfect—nothing — absolutely nothing — excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can’t be naïve about the culture we live in,” she wrote.
The piece was met with an instant backlash, even among Bialik’s Hollywood colleagues. “I have to say I was dressed non provocatively as a 12-year-old when men on the street masturbated at me. It’s not clothing,” Patricia Arquette, whose sister Rosanna Arquette accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, tweeted at Bialik. “It is also not outrageous for anyone to expected to be treated in a professional matter by anyone in a professional relationship.”
Bialik claimed her words were taken ‘out of context.’
Being told my @NYTimes piece resonated w/ so many. Also see some have taken my words out of the context of the Hollywood machine. See below: pic.twitter.com/0NmxtAF1vP
— Mayim Bialik (@missmayim) October 15, 2017
Following the backlash, Bialik published a statement on social media. “I’m being told my N.Y. Times piece resonated with so many, and I am grateful for all the feedback. Unfortunately, I also see a bunch of people have taken my words out of context of the Hollywood machine and twisted them to imply that God forbid I would blame a woman for her assault based on clothing or behavior,” she wrote. “Anyone who knows me and my feminism knows that’s absurd and not at all what this piece was about.”
Bialik’s anti-vaccine comments
Bialik, who shares two sons with ex-husband Michael Stone, has made several controversial remarks about vaccinations. In a 2009 PEOPLE interview, she claimed they were a “non-vaccinating family,” adding, “But I make no claims about people’s individual decisions. We based ours on research and discussions with our pediatrician, and we’ve been happy with that decision, but obviously, there’s a lot of controversy about it.”
In February 2015, Bialik issued a new statement, insisting that her children have been vaccinated. “I would like to dispel the rumors about my stance on vaccines. I am not anti-vaccine,” she wrote at the time. “My children are vaccinated. There has been so much hysteria and anger about this issue, and I hope this clears things up as far as my part.”
However, Times of Israel notes that Bialik later issued another statement similar to other comments she made between 2009 and 2015, telling parents to do their own research. “honestly, people. Do your research. Do what’s right for you. Let me live my life, and you live yours. No one gets to know the timeline of my kids’ medical appointments because they are not celebrities and they are not your property,” she wrote in this second statement. “put me on the altar if you have nothing better to do today, but be happy with your decisions and leave my kids alone. My job is not in jeopardy. everything is fine, except in the clearly supportive and loving world of social media and gossip. have a fantastic day, everyone.”
Bialik got the COVID-19 vaccine and said her children would get the flu vaccine.
Before the coronavirus vaccine was available, Bialik shared a video on her YouTube channel titled “Anti-Vaxxers and Covid.” She again insisted she is not against vaccines, although she has not gotten one herself in 30 years. She said she planned to get the flu and coronavirus vaccines once they were made available for herself and her sons.
“You might be saying, ‘Hey, wait for a second, you don’t believe in vaccines! You’re one of those anti-vaxxers,” Bialik said in the video. “Let’s finally talk about it. I wrote a book about 10 years ago about my experience parenting, and at the time, my children had not received the typical schedule of vaccines. But I have never, not once, said that vaccines are not valuable, not useful, or not necessary because they are.”
She also called allegations that she is an anti-vaxxer “inaccurate.” But then again, she said she still has some concerns with vaccines because they are “never 100% effective.” She also thinks there could be too many vaccines.
“Do I think we give way too many vaccines in this country compared to when I was a vaccinated child? Yes. I believe most people don’t even know what Hepatitis B is but vaccinate their newborns for it anyway because they’re told to? Yes,” the actress said. “Does the medical community often operate from a place of fear to make money? Heck yeah, they do!”
Bialik has since received the COVID-19 vaccine. “She has been fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus and is not at all an anti-vaxxer,” Bialik’s spokesperson told The Wrap on Aug. 11.
Her brand partnership with questionable brain supplement Neuriva
In March, the brain health supplement Neuriva hired Bialik as a “science ambassador” to “empower consumers to make informed decisions about brain health supplements and break down the science behind Neuriva – proving that not all supplements are created equally.” However, Science-Based Medicine noted Neuriva’s claim to have clinical studies backing up its claims is misleading. One article in Psychology Today even called the supplement “just another snake oil.”
These controversies aren’t going away.
“Mayim Bialik getting the Jeopardy gig bc she spent all of Big Bang Theory [talking] about her degree, but it’s just in time for everyone to see what she’s had to say about vaccines lol, this announcement has big ‘stay tuned for further updates’ vibes,” one person tweeted. “The same Mayim Bialik who didn’t get a vaccine for 30 years and put her kids on a delayed schedule because she ‘questions the profit motives of the vaccine industry’? Cool. Cool. Cool,” another wrote.