Mayim Bialik Wants the ‘Jeopardy!’ Job. Is She ‘Neutral’ Enough?

Alex Trebek guesses fair. Bialik has questioned vaccines, endorsed a controversial brain supplement, and weighed in on hot-button issues.

After the succession debacle at “Jeopardy!” turned considered one of television’s most respected game shows right into a punchline on late-night talk shows and on the Emmy Awards, Mayim Bialik took over as a brief host this season with a easy goal: not to attract too much attention to herself.

Her job, as she sees it, is to easily deliver the clues, and she has been favoring subdued colors like navy blue over the electric-pink she wore last season. “I didn’t want to be distracting — like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s that lady!’” Bialik said in a recent interview. “I think a lot about ‘Jeopardy!’ just needs to be very neutral to pleasant.”

Neutral to pleasant: It’s a becoming phrase for “Jeopardy!,” a staid television staple. But the show’s efforts to discover a successor to Alex Trebek, the beloved host who died last 12 months, have hardly been both. In August it announced Mike Richards would get the post and that Bialik would lead prime time specials. Then the Richards appointment imploded over a series of offensive comments he had made on a podcast. Now Bialik has stepped in as an interim host, whereas making it clear that she would like the top job permanently.

But Bialik — a popular sitcom actor who blogged when running a blog was popular, vlogged when vlogging was popular, and now has her own podcast — has long drawn consideration, and controversy, with copious public statements of her own. Nearly a decade in the past she wrote in a book of constructing an “informed decision not to vaccinate our children,” prompting her to make clear last 12 months that they might get vaccinated against the coronavirus. She blogged about donating cash to buy bulletproof vests for the Israel Defense Forces. She endorsed a “brain health supplement” earlier this 12 months for an organization that agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing it of false promoting.

Scrutiny of her many past statements has now become the latest chapter within the saga that’s the sport show’s makes an attempt to discover a host who sticks.

“Right now we’ve got someone absolutely free of controversy, Mayim Bialik,” John Oliver joked on a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” going on to explain her as “a person I think is great because I don’t have Google.”

The show has not addressed the criticism publicly, and Bialik’s episodes have seen a slight ratings bump in comparison with the 5 episodes that Richards had taped before his departure (likely helped by the successful streak of the reigning contestant, Matt Amodio). Bialik — who hopes to become the primary lady to completely get the highest job on “Jeopardy!”— joked in an interview that the general public scrutiny might have been worse.

“I credit me and my publicist, Heather, that like there really wasn’t a lot more,” Bialik laughed. “I’ve been talking for a long time.”

Bialik has been within the public eye for many years. She became the young star of a network sitcom, “Blossom” in 1990. Later, she spent years as a personality on the “The Big Bang Theory.” But her freely-shared opinions have typically attracted criticism.

“The notion of subtlety and nuance is something that’s been lacking from our culture for many, many years now,” she lamented within the interview.

The show just lately introduced that Bialik would proceed as host via Nov. 5; after that she is going to split internet hosting duties with Ken Jennings, a former champion also seen as contender for the highest job, till the tip of the 12 months. Part of the problem for Bialik — and anybody within the operating for the job — would be the comparability to Trebek, who began as host in 1984 and cultivated the picture of an impeccably neutral omniscient narrator.

Bialik, who earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience, has a matter-of-fact way of talking that implies the sort of authoritative intelligence Trebek projected as host. Her appearing experience — she is at present starring in a Fox sitcom called “Call Me Kat” — has accustomed her to the on-set calls for of TV. Bialik called the “Jeopardy!” job a “combination of everything I’ve ever worked for.”

But her willingness to share her opinions publicly on every part from parenting to the battle within the Middle East represents a putting departure from the studied neutrality of Trebek. In his end-of-life memoir, Trebek wrote that he held his opinions so close to his chest that he received letters from Republican viewers thinking he was Republican and Democratic viewers thinking he was a Democrat (he was an unbiased).

Googling Bialik’s identify brings up expansive archives of written and recorded ideas on topics together with her positions on shaving, the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey,” swearing, on-line dating, third-wave feminism, girls’s sexuality, pop music, and a billboard that includes Ariana Grande in a revealing outfit. An essay she wrote in The New York Times in 2017, “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,” in which she lamented the objectification of ladies in Hollywood and famous her personal alternative to decorate modestly, prompted criticism; Bialik later clarified that the only people chargeable for assaults are “the predators who are committing those horrendous acts.”

She has shared myriad personal particulars, discussing her divorce, her struggles with getting old and physique picture, and her strategy to elevating children. This 12 months, she began a podcast about psychological health, talking overtly about coping with anxiousness and an consuming dysfunction.

For a number of years, Bialik largely disappeared from Hollywood. She earned a Ph.D., had two children and anticipated that she may spend the remainder of her profession educating Hebrew and piano, till she started showing in “The Big Bang Theory” in 2010. What was initially presupposed to be a two-episode arc on the CBS sitcom was 9 years and 4 Emmy nominations.

Bialik never ended up in academia, as she as soon as imagined she would, but she typically cites her doctorate in her books on parenting and adolescent improvement and her affiliations with teams or merchandise. (“Neuriva is the brain supplement trusted by a real neuroscientist — me!” she says in an advert for the corporate, whose claims had beforehand been described in Psychology Today as “pseudoscience”).

Before her endorsement of Neuriva was introduced, the corporate behind the product, Reckitt Benckiser, was sued in a class-action case in which plaintiffs claimed that there was no strong proof that the complement improved mind performance. The firm, which denied wrongdoing, agreed to explain the product’s components as “clinically tested” relatively than “clinically proven.”

Bialik said she stays an endorser — she signed onto a time period of dedication — and that she had consulted a panel of medical doctors about the complement before signing on. “It is exactly what it states that it is: It’s a supplement that has components that absolutely are healthy for your brain,” she said. “I make no claims and haven’t made any claims that it cures anything.”

In her 2012 book on attachment parenting, “Beyond the Sling,” Bialik wrote that she and her husband on the time had determined to not vaccinate their sons; she later rejected the label “anti-vaccine.” In response to recent criticism, Bialik, who home colleges her sons, said she needed to “shout from the rooftops” about a video she had recorded last 12 months which she claimed clarified her place.

In the video, she says she and her sons can be receiving the coronavirus and flu vaccines. “The truth is I delayed vaccinations for reasons that you don’t necessarily get to know about simply because you follow me on social media,” she said. Now, she said within the video, “my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have, but my children are vaccinated.” She then went on so as to add that she believes “we give way too many vaccines.”

During the interview, Bialik said that her superiors at “Jeopardy!” had not requested her to tone down her outspokenness as the present face of the show, but that it was something she had been thinking about.

Two matters Bialik has typically weighed in on publicly are her devotion to Judaism and societal stress on girls’s appearances. But when requested her response to the departure of Richards — who had made a joke on his podcast centered on an antisemitic stereotype about the scale of Jewish noses, together with demeaning feedback about girls’s our bodies — she declined to share her opinion.

“I had a reaction, but I don’t really feel like it’s for public consumption,” she said. “It further potentially complicates any discussion about trying to return to a state of normalcy for ‘Jeopardy!’ And so I’m kind of respectfully choosing not to talk about it.”

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