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Jeopardy Host Mayim Bialik Finally Weighs In On ‘Complexity’ Of Mike Richards Controversy

Mayim Bialik hosts Jeopardy!

The dust appears to be settling, at least in the short term, around the circus that has been Jeopardy!'s search for a new host. Call Me Kat star Mayim Bialik will take over as host for the daytime episodes until Friday, November 7, after which she’ll coordinate schedules with Jeopardy! great Ken Jennings to share hosting duties for the rest of 2021. Until now, Bialik has remained mum on the controversy, which saw former executive producer Mike Richards announce himself as the permanent successor to Alex Trebek, only to be ousted due to backlash from previous offensive comments.

In an essay published this week in Newsweek, Mayim Bialik finally spoke out about Mike Richards’ firing, and her general experience of being hired by Jeopardy! Noting how excited she was to join the team as the host for primetime specials and tournaments, The Big Bang Theory star said she didn’t even know at first that Richards planned to take over as primetime host. When she learned of the controversy surrounding Richards, she said her concern was with the iconic game show’s future.

I didn't immediately know who the other host was going to be, and after Mike Richards was announced as permanent host, a couple more weeks passed and then everything changed and Mike stepped down. I think everyone who works with me will say that, as a person who has been acting since I was a kid, I go where I'm pointed and I do the job I'm told to do. I do what's in front of me. I don't really follow the news aspect of my industry too much. That's how I approached what was going on. Of course I was in touch with Mike as he was my boss at that time, and I don't wish ill on him, or anyone. But the complexity of these situations is not something that can be summed up easily. My first response, when all of this went down, was to say to the Jeopardy! team: 'How can I help?' Because I am part of this family.

It sounds like Mayim Bialik is trying to walk a thin line between speaking out on the controversy and staying neutral for the sake of her new employment. Being the current public face of Jeopardy! puts her in a pretty awkward situation of having to comment on her former boss’ actions in ways that won't further alienate the show or herself. The biggest statement Bialik really made was that she wanted to do whatever she could to help the show.

Jeopardy! may have found a workable solution to get us through the rest of the year, but neither Mayim Bialik nor Ken Jennings come without their own controversies — a fact that fans have been sure to make their voices heard on. Jennings has issued an apology for some offensive tweets he shared years ago, and Bialik has faced criticism for past comments on subjects including vaccinations and sexual abuse. Neither were on quite the same level as Richards in that respect, though.

Season 38 of Jeopardy! kicked off last week with Mike Richards as host, as the former EP filmed one week’s worth of episodes prior to stepping down as host and ultimately being removed as executive producer. Check your local listings to see when and where to catch Mayim Bialik leading the syndicated game show, as current champion Matt Amodio continues his 24-day winning streak. Be sure to keep up with all the new and returning shows hitting your screen soon with our 2021 Fall TV schedule.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.