Mayim Bialik, neuroscientist and sitcom actor, is the last remaining host of Jeopardy! following the high-profile departure of executive producer Mike Richards as the late, great Alex Trebek’s replacement. But where Richards was taken down by his skeevy treatment of women, Bialik is courting her own controversy thanks to the resurfacing of past comments she’s made about vaccinations and birth via Caesarean section.
Bialik, who’s been hired to host Jeopardy! spin-offs and specials as opposed to the main, syndicated gig Richards once held, has faced renewed scrutiny over past statements after officially joining the quiz show on August 11. As pointed out by Vanity Fair, the Big Bang Theory star previously discussed a reluctance to vaccinate her children in a 2012 parenting guide she wrote, titled Beyond the Sling.
“We made an informed decision not to vaccinate our children, but this is a very personal decision that should be made only after sufficient research, which today is within reach of every parent who seeks to learn about their child’s health regardless of their medical knowledge or educational status,” Bialik wrote at the time.
Since then, Bialik has attempted to clarify her opinions on vaccinations, tweeting in 2015 that she had subsequently immunised her children and telling TheWrap earlier this month that she’s fully vaccinated against covid-19. A spokesperson also pushed back on the idea that Bialik is an “anti-vaxxer,” referring to the growing fringe movement that remains sceptical about the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations even in the face of overwhelming evidence and a deadly, global pandemic.
But that’s far from the only past comment coming back to bite the new Jeopardy! host in the arse.
While providing context about the benefits of home births for a 2010 story on wellness website SELF, Bialik gave credence to the disgusting idea that babies who can’t survive a natural birth (as opposed to those delivered through a common surgical procedure known colloquially as a C-section) aren’t “favoured evolutionarily” and should “pass peacefully.”
Additionally, Bialik described herself as a “proud Zionist” in 2017 while speaking to Huffington Post about Israel’s ongoing brutalisation of the Palestinian people. She further voiced support for Israeli settlements, which have been deemed illegal by the United Nations due to Israeli colonisers’ displacement of Palestinian people from the Palestinian homeland.
Bialik was also criticised in 2017 for penning an op-ed in The New York Times that many saw as tacitly blaming Harvey Weinstein’s victims for the sexual assaults they suffered at the movie producer’s hands. Again, she pushed back on this characterisation, saying that her comments about dressing modestly to supposedly avoid assault by men had been misconstrued and taken out of context.
And finally, many are giving Bialik the side-eye for her work as a spokesperson for supplement company Neuriva, which as Mother Jones pointed out earlier this month sells unproven “nootropics” that have previously been criticised by publications like Psychology Today as “snake oil.” This side hustle puts Bialik in such illustrious company as hacks like Joe Rogan, Alex Jones, and Ben Shapiro.
Although few pointing out these red flags have called for Bialik’s resignation from Jeopardy!, many seem to consider her hiring a bad look for the show. Her past statements, combined with the controversy surrounding executive producer Mike Richards, have put the program on thin ice with many fans, especially those who were hoping for a beloved personality like LeVar Burton to step into the hosting role.
Sony Picture Television has yet to comment publicly about Bialik’s history. Rumours are now circulating that previous Jeopardy! champion and current show consultant Ken Jennings is the “hands-down favourite” to step into the main gig. Jennings was one of several guest hosts in the months following Alex Trebek’s death, a group that also included Richards, Bialik, and Burton.
Jeopardy! season 38 begins September 13.