Mayim Bialik Breaks Silence After Leaving "Jeopardy!" Over Strikes
The actor comes "from a union family" and supports "pretty much all unions."
Back in May, Jeopardy! co-host Mayim Bialik made headlines when she stopped filming at the end of Season 39 to stand in solidarity with the striking Writers Guild of America (WGA). Ken Jennings took over behind the podium for the final week of filming—and has since assumed hosting duties on Celebrity Jeopardy! (Bialik was previously the sole host) and the ongoing Second Chance tournament during Season 40 of Jeopardy! For her part, Bialik has stayed quiet about her decision to walk away from the game show—at least temporarily—but she recently sat down with Vanity Fair and broke her silence for the first time since departing. Read on to find out what Bialik had to say.
Bialik "comes from a union family."
The WGA strike finally ended last week after 148 days, with writers, studios, and production companies reaching a long-awaited agreement. However, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has also been on strike since July.
Bialik, who is a SAG-AFTRA member, didn't address her stance on the WGA strike, but when asked about the actors' strike, the Blossom star shared her opinion on unions in general.
"There's a lot of complexity to this, but my general statement is always that I come from a union family," Bialik said. "My grandparents were immigrants who worked in sweatshops, and my parents were public school teachers. While it's not for me to personally judge anyone else's decision, for me, I am a union supporter—pretty much all unions and what they fight for."
She concluded, "I believe in that system even if it's not perfect. I believe in getting educated about why people strike and what they're striking for."
Bialik's comment that "it's not for me to personally judge anyone else's decision" may have been a reference to Jennings, who has faced substantial criticism for crossing the picket line to host in Bialik's absence.
She didn't discuss when or if she'll be returning to Jeopardy!
While Vanity Fair mentioned Bialik's "sweet gig" as a co-host of Jeopardy!, the actor didn't discuss the show or whether she'll be returning any time soon during the interview. However, in light of her comments and information from sources, she likely won't return until SAG-AFTRA members reach an agreement as well.
"Mayim is choosing to stand with the actors like she did the writers and won't cross the picket lines," a source told The Messenger in August. "She hopes to return to Jeopardy! as soon as the strike has been resolved."
The source also said that her return likely won't be until 2024.
"She wasn't fired," the source continued. "She's choosing to stand with her union, and because of that, she was told it is unlikely she will return for the rest of the year, even if the strike is resolved before then."
Jeopardy! viewers have been vocal about Jennings as the solo host.
While Jeopardy! hasn't issued a formal statement on the hosting schedule for the remainder of 2023, the question of who should be the permanent host has been hotly debated since Alex Trebek died in 2020.
Many viewers are firm supporters of Jennings, taking to social media to say that they're glad the former champ is the only one behind the podium.
"@KenJennings So glad Mayim is no longer hosting any of Jeopardy shows. I found her to be very obnoxious and condescending. Ken you do a fantastic job keep it up!" one viewer wrote on X on Sept. 23.
"I appreciate that the #CelebrityJeopardy introduction is far less clunky than they were last season. Far more seamless," another wrote, per The U.S. Sun.
Others are anxious for Bialik's return.
While some fans are in Jennings' camp, other viewers are ready for the "GOAT" to share screen time.
"I liked it better with Mayim Bialik as the host," a viewer wrote on X on Sept. 27. "I like her laugh and [sense] of humor."
Another added, "@missmayim needs to be made the permanent host of @Jeopardy she is amazing! When Ken is in it just lacks charisma, and fun. Something Jeopardy always used to have, Mayim brings the fun back!"
Yet another viewer said, "I like Mayim so much better than Jennings. I find him to be an arrogant man. @missmayim is down to earth and seems so sincere."