‘Jeopardy!’ Host Mayim Bialik Says ‘People Absolutely Have a Legitimate Right to Be Upset’ About Some of Her Controversial Positions

Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik will continue hosting through much of 2022. The game show is still seeking a permanent host, but viewers will still see Bialik on the syndicated and prime time competitions for the time being. Bialik loves the job, but it’s not without hardships. Her ascension to host has brought with it some intense media scrutiny, but Bialik validates viewers’ feelings. 

'Jeopardy!' host Mayim Bilaik stands at the podium reading questions
Mayim Bialik | Casey Durkin/ABC via Getty Images

Bialik was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top Five podcast on Feb. 4 to discuss being a Jeopardy! host. Podcast hosts Daniel Fienberg and Lesley Goldberg asked Bialik about the scrutiny that came with the job, and Bialik indicated she hears her critics to some degree. 

‘Jeopardy!’ host Mayim Bialik has been an open book

Bialik has been outspoken and used her platform to discuss subjects like mental health. However, it was practices like extended breastfeeding that raised eyebrows. The Jeopardy! host breastfed her son until he was 4. She did not give her newborns standard vaccines, though did vaccinate them against COVID-19. Bialik also speaks out about Israel, and wrote a book, “Beyond the Sling,” about parenting. 

“It definitely felt embarrassing to be on CNN about being the Jeopardy! host because my kids weren’t vaccinated as newborns,” Bialik said on TV’s Top Five. “It’s not like I’m surprised that people are like, ‘Oh, she breastfed her kids longer than five minutes, she’s a horrible person.’ Like, I’ve been hearing that since I breastfed my kids for longer than five minutes. Like, ‘Oh, she had a homebirth.’ Yeah, I did.”

Bialik said criticism of her Judaism and Jewish causes outweigh the feedback she gets on other positions. 

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“Supporting the right of an Israeli state to exist is not a crime,” Bialik said. “So a lot of the hatred that I also get throughout my career is simply about me being Jewish… A lot of the things also that people talk about are things that normally would be spoken about over drinks with friends. Like, ‘Hey, did you hear so and so?’ As opposed to like, ‘I’m going to start a twitter campaign to talk about why Mayim Bialik didn’t vaccinate her children for Hepatitis B.’”

‘Jeopardy!’ host Mayim Bialik supports your right to be upset, too

Bialik said she got used to being criticized before she even became an actor. Once she starred in Beaches and Blossom, criticism was just a part of her life. So, she knew what she was getting into when she spoke up about her positions. Becoming a Jeopardy! host just raised her profile even further. 

“People absolutely have a legitimate right to be upset,” Bialik said. “I was asked the other day, did I vaccinate my kids for COVID because of the backlash? I was like no, they were vaccinated before. That’s not how I operate. So we all are doing the best that we can, America. We’re all doing the best that we can.”

Aside from religious and political conflicts, Bialik said Jeopardy! fans finding out about her for the first time were struck by her child rearing philosophies.

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“I think being an extended breastfeeder was the thing that people are most interested about, or that I don’t require my children to share toys at the playground,” Bialik said. “People were like, ‘How could she not require children to share?’ It’s interesting what gets picked up.”

It’s all about the show for her

Bialik spoke about her positions when asked directly, but she reiterated that her goal is to be the Jeopardy! host. Before his death, Alex Trebek had said he hoped his successor would be a woman. The game show is not her platform for causes, though she will continue to use her own platform as she sees fit. 

“Not everybody has to like me, which is something I learned from just being teased and mocked from the time I was in Kindergarten,” Bialik said. “I’m not everybody’s cup of tea and I totally get that. My goal is to blend into the podium as much as I can and have it not be about all of that other stuff. You will not find a human who doesn’t have something that they’ve said, did or thought about, especially in this industry where everything is documented and documentable. That’s the nice thing about me though. I really don’t have secrets, people. It’s all out there and I made a YouTube video about it already.”

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