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Mayim Bialik’s Past Anti-Vaccine Statements Resurface as She Guest Hosts Jeopardy!

Bialik has since announced she supports vaccines and has received the COVID-19 vaccine herself.

Mayim Bialik guest hosting Jeopardy!

We all knew that finding the next host for Jeopardy! wouldn’t be easy, given the late Alex Trebek’s iconic and universally beloved presence. But we didn’t think the producers at the popular game show would mess up SO spectacularly. After a summer of guest hosts auditioning to take the podium, executive producer Mike Richards was tapped for the gig, causing audiences to cry “who?” and “why him?”

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Richards’ past history of sexual harassment lawsuits, coupled with his truly odious, sexist comments on his podcast The Randumb Show, quickly hit the news, and Richards stepped down from the hosting gig. He still remains an executive producer on the series, in true mediocre white man failing up fashion.

Now, the game show will feature more rotating guest hosts, starting with Mayim Bialik. The Big Bang Theory actor has already signed on to host Jeopardy‘s spinoff series and tournaments, and Richards’ vacancy means she is now the frontrunner to take on the hosting job.

In many ways, Bialik makes total sense as the new host. The erstwhile Blossom Russo has been a reliable presence on television for decades, and in addition to being an actor, she is also a neuroscientist who earned her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. But some of Bialik’s controversial statements may be coming back to haunt her.

First, there was her unfortunate 2017 op-ed in the New York Times titled “Being a Feminist in Harvey Weinstein’s World,” where Bialik victim-blames the survivors of Weinstein’s abuse, writing:

“As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms … I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise. I have decided that my sexual self is best reserved for private situations with those I am most intimate with. I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.”

Bialik later apologized for the article.

Then, there are Bialik’s anti-vaccine statements, which date back to a 2009 interview with People Magazine where she said, “We are a non-vaccinating family, 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.”

And in Bialik’s 2012 parenting book “Beyond the Sling,” she wrote she hadn’t gotten a vaccine in 30 years. But Bialik has since announced that she supports vaccines, and has been vaccinated for COVID-19 and received the flu shot. Bialik discussed her choice in a YouTube video she posted last year:

Bialik says, “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 continued, “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 … As of today, my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have but my children are vaccinated. I repeat, my children are vaccinated.”

However, Bialik still remains skeptical, saying “Do I think we give way too many vaccines in this country compared to when I was a vaccinated child? Yes. Do I believe most people don’t even know what Hepatitis B is but vaccinate their newborns for it anyway because they’re simply told to? Yes. Do I think there’s a tremendous profit that is made from vaccines and specifically from making sure that kids show up in school? Yes … Does the medical community often operate from a place of fear in order to make money? Heck yeah, they do!”

Okay, let’s take these one at a time. First, how many vaccines is “too many”? Are we supposed to just stop medical research and progress because we’ve hit some imagined vaccine ceiling? No, that’s patently absurd. In the last 30 years alone we’ve seen vaccines for Varicella (chicken pox), rotavirus, hepatitis A, and the pneumococcal vaccine, among others. As a parent of a toddler, I’m grateful that science has advanced far enough that I can protect my kid from these diseases.

And why does it matter whether or not we know exactly what Hepatitis B is? There are no hidden benefits to be found in Hepatitis, Mayim! Furthermore, the Hepatitis vaccine is groundbreaking in that it is the first anti-cancer vaccine. Does Big Pharma profit off of its clientele? Undoubtedly. But there’s no such profit model for children safely attending school. No one is making any money educating our children (least of all teachers, who deserve a way higher salary than they get).

And while Bialik says these things, she was also the “science ambassador” for Neuriva, a “brain supplement” pill whose active ingredient is “Coffea arabica,” aka coffee. It’s decidedly not a good look to both dismiss vaccine use while promoting snake oil caffeine pills.

At this point, Jeopardy! should listen to its fans and bring on our science-loving, nonproblematic fave LeVar Burton. Give the people what they want.

(image: ABC)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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