Mayim Bialik Reveals She Was Confused And Hurt By MAD Magazine & SNL Parodies

Mayim Bialik's turn on "Blossom" skyrocketed her to fame in the 1990s, but that widespread recognition came at a cost for the actress. While many sitcom fans loved her performances as the titular teenage protagonist on the show, they also caught the attention of satirical pop culture institutions like MAD Magazine and "Saturday Night Live," who proceeded to poke fun at her appearance.

While reflecting on these experiences in a piece for Variety, Bialik revealed that she grew up feeling insecure about her facial features. So when she learned that the humor magazine MAD had parodied "Blossom," she was terrified that the publication would brutally ridicule her. Ultimately, Bialik's fears came true as the piece made jokes about her nose in relation to her Jewish heritage.

According to Bialik, the jokes made her cry. However, her father, a longtime fan of the magazine, told her that being parodied is akin to flattery in showbiz circles. As such, the "Big Bang Theory" star sent the editor a photo of her posing with the debut issue of MAD to suggest she wasn't insulted by the parody. However, this wasn't the end of the anti-Semitic spoofs toward Bialik, as one '90s "Saturday Night Live" sketch also got in on the offensive act.

Mayim Bialik felt ashamed after SNL's Blossom parody

It's no secret that "Saturday Night Live" is controversial. For over 40 years, the weekly sketch comedy series has lambasted celebrities, politicians, and current events through skits and stand-up comedy performances. Some of these sketches are ill-advised and offensive, and Mayim Bialik's experience shows that they can negatively affect their chosen subjects.

The "Blossom" skit involved an actor donning a noticeably large prosthetic nose to portray Bialik's character. Moreover, Bialik was the only "Blossom" star whose appearance was subject to ridicule in the sketch, which struck her as odd at the time. However, she also had to face her peers at school after it aired, and the experience wasn't positive. "I hoped no one noticed," she wrote in the Variety piece. "All of my friends at high school watched 'SNL.' It wasn't subtle. They would all see it and I felt ashamed."

These parodies opened Bialik's eyes to anti-Semitism and the concept of "Jewface," which has been on her mind recently due to Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to play Leonard Bernstein in "Maestro." Since then, the "Blossom" star has used her profile to question anti-Semitism and promote mental health causes, but being open about her heritage has also led to criticism and worse.

Mayim Bialik on dealing with anti-Semitism

Mayim Bialik is open about her background and religious views, but she feels they're untrendy topics in Hollywood. In an interview with Fox News, she spoke about dealing with anti-Semitism as a person in the public eye.

According to Bialik, she received a lot of blowback after visiting a friend serving in the Israeli military, as critics perceived the trip as her endorsing a divisive regime. "It really doesn't matter what I support or believe, the fact that I'm Jewish and go there is enough — that should be alarming to most people," she said, also noting that she receives anti-Semitic abuse, threats, and hatred, regardless of who she supports or tries to help.  

That said, the "Big Bang Theory" star has tried to use her life experiences to help others. For example, her "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown" podcast is dedicated to discussing and promoting mental health causes, and she's frequently joined by celebrity guests who discuss their own experiences in an insightful, entertaining, and honest manner.

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