Actress and game show host Mayim Bialik is reflecting back on how her profile has played a prominent role in her life and career.
More specifically, the Big Bang Theory alum is remembering an old SNL sketch that mocked her for having what she called an an ‘undeniably Jewish’ nose, in an essay for Variety’s Antisemitism and Hollywood package.
The 1994 skit was a parody of Blossom, an NBC sitcom that starred Bialik in titular role, beginning when she was just 14-years-old.
While the parody focused on mocking the show’s penchant for being sweet and sentimental storylines, as well as co-star Joey Lawrence’s catchphrase of “Whoa!” it also made a point to highlight that Bialik was indeed Jewish.
‘The actress portraying me was dancing and mugging for the camera and she was hilarious,’ Bialik wrote, in a reference to the former SNL cast member Melanie Hutsell. ‘But. She wore a prosthetic nose. In order to truly convey that she was Blossom, she wore a fake, big nose.’
Mayim Bialik, 47, recalled an old Saturday Night Live sketch in 1994 that mocked her for having what she called an an ‘undeniably Jewish’ nose, in an essay for Variety
Initially in the essay Bialik, now 47, writes about the progression of her looks, and how it eventually became a talking point in her life.
‘I got my nose in around about 4th grade. Before then, I had more of a little button nose. Adorable,’ she shared, before adding, ‘But from the time I was 10, the pointy chin I had pretty much since I could crawl was joined by what I think of as a prominent, somewhat regal, nose in the style of what is called a “Roman” nose.’
She went on to start acting professionally by her Middle School years. As a form of encouragement, her parents compared her look to two huge stars that happened to also be Jewish: Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler, both of which had been known to have prominent noses but still persevered to have huge careers.
By the time Blossom premiered on NBC in 1990 the scrutiny began to heighten.
One early review from ‘a prominent publication described the lack of “sense” that my face made to him.’ she said, adding how the shape of her face confused this critic.
‘He said that my features did not seem to match one another,’ she said of the review.
Bialik knew of the significance being parodied on Saturday Night Live, so she was very excited to see how she would be portrayed.
But after watching the SNL skit with Hutsell, Bialik recalled being ‘confused’ because the prosthetic she wore struck her as ‘odd.’
‘No one else on the show was parodied for their features,’ Bialik noted. ‘I never thought to talk about it and mostly I tried to forget it.’
Painful portrayal: ‘The actress portraying me was dancing and mugging for the camera and she was hilarious,’ Bialik said of former SNL cast member Melanie Hutsell. ‘But. She wore a prosthetic nose. In order to truly convey that she was Blossom, she wore a fake, big nose’
While looking back to her Blossom days for the essay the actress revealed that she wondered how her fans who looked like her felt ‘when they saw an actress playing me with a comically prosthetic nose’
She went on to admit she hoped no one had noticed the skit, but in the end all of her friends at high school saw it and she ‘felt ashamed.’
Bialik would recall how MAD magazine did its parodies, explaining how ‘everyone is caricatured,’ but when it came to her SNL parody she felt ‘singled out’ for her nose.
It turns out the unpleasant memory of the SNL skit was triggered when Bialik saw the backlash actor Bradley Cooper got when he was accused of wearing ‘Jewface’ due to the prosthetic nose he wore while playing legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.
‘And I started scrutinizing the photos of Bradley and Leonard and wondering if it was necessary,’ the San Diego native admitted. ‘I don’t know how I feel.’
But Bialik does seem to care about how young girls, who looked up to her when she starred on Blossom, feel about being criticized for ‘features I inherited from my mixed Eastern European-Ashkenazi past.’
The catalyst: It turns out the unpleasant memory of the SNL skit was triggered when Bialik saw the backlash actor Bradley Cooper got when he was accused of wearing ‘Jewface’ due to the prosthetic nose he wore while playing legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro
‘Girls all over the world used to tell me that they had never seen a Jewish girl like me on TV before they saw me on Blossom,’ the actress explained. ‘Many said they knew I was Jewish and it made them proud to be. That was so touching to me, and it still is.’
She added, ‘I wonder how those girls felt when they saw an actress playing me with a comically prosthetic nose.’
During the essay Bialik was open and honest about not always loving her nose, but confessed she ‘never wanted to change it.’
‘I have come to see my face as distinctly mine as given to me from G-d,’ she wrote. ‘My genetic makeup is mine alone, and also, it is the combination of cultures shoved together after the Holocaust spilled so many of us out on the shores of Ellis Island. My nose is undeniably Jewish, and I am as well. Is it because of my nose? Perhaps. But I don’t have to know because we will always be one and the same.’
Along with her five season run on Blossom (1990-1995), Bialik is also known for playing neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory (2009-2019), and as the host of the popular game show Jeopardy! (2021-present).