When a new television show is introduced to the public, it's difficult to predict if it'll be a hit, let alone the next pop culture phenomenon. The level of unpredictability was extra high in the early days of "The Big Bang Theory," which had its original, unaired pilot scrapped by network leadership. However, following a major overhaul by Chuck Lorre, the story of four nerds and their significant others premiered and became a hit among the masses over the course of its 12 seasons and record-breaking 279 episodes.
After being part of such a successful project, it was only natural for the lives of the show's cast members to change forever. This was especially true for Mayim Bialik, the real-life neuroscientist who brings to life on "The Big Bang Theory" beginning in Season 3. Thanks to her years playing the love interest of theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Bialik was able to find steady work (and health insurance), branch out into fresh creative endeavors, form professional and personal bonds with her co-stars, and emotionally come to terms with past hardships.
Read on to see how Bialik's life was never the same after her tenure on "The Big Bang Theory."
After achieving early success in her career as the titular character on "Blossom," Mayim Bialik did something unexpected for someone in her position: she left the entertainment industry to pursue an education, attending college and graduate school and earning her doctorate in neuroscience. Simultaneously, she welcomed two sons with her then-husband, Michael Stone.
However, after spending 12 years away from acting, Bialik decided to return because she was running out of health insurance. She told , "I had a toddler and a newborn, and I had been a grad student, and my insurance was expiring — this is a true story — and I figured, if I can just get even a couple [acting] jobs here or there, I'll be able to get insurance again."
So, Bialik auditioned for "The Big Bang Theory" with the sole goal of acquiring health insurance through SAG-AFTRA. Not only had Bialik never watched the show, she had never even heard of it. Despite this, her audition was successful, and she was offered the role of Sheldon's (Jim Parsons) quirky love interest. Bialik achieved her goal of getting health insurance by becoming a staple character on one of TV's most beloved sitcoms.
Following Mayim Bialik's "The Big Bang Theory" debut in Season 3, Episode 23 ("The Lunar Excitation"), she was brought back on a per-episode basis. After some time in this unstable work situation, Bialik began to have doubts about her longevity on the show. Little did she know, the plan was to make Amy a permanent fixture, and Bialik was soon offered a regular contract.
Her colleague, Jim Parsons, is largely to thank for this, as he informed showrunners that, if needed, he would fight for Bialik's continued inclusion. Parsons said in "That was notable for me, only in that I almost never disagreed with the writers. But at some point I felt a certain way about working with Mayim that I was like, 'If for whatever reason we seemed to be weaning her off of this show as a character, I would go and talk to them.'" According to Parsons, Bialik, along with Melissa Rauch as Bernadette Rostenkowski, was introduced at the perfect time: before the storylines of the core five ran stale. He said, "The writers did not let the well run dry before they were like, 'Oh God, should we adopt a kid? Should we bring in a monkey?'"
Upon landing this full-time gig, Bialik stepped away from teaching neuroscience, piano tutoring, and living a relatively private life as a mother "[I]t completely changed everything."
In "The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series," Mayim Bialik admitted that when Amy first started appearing on the show, not every viewer was on board with the idea of Sheldon entering the dating scene, despite her essentially being the female version of him at this point. "There was some negative attention when I joined the cast because some people held Sheldon very near and dear to them and didn't want him to change or become a cheesy boyfriend," said Bialik.
However, as Amy grew as a character, becoming less like Sheldon as she found her first true friendship in Penny (Kaley Cuoco), fans gravitated toward the character. On Reddit, said, "I think Amy had the best growth of any character on the show. I found her to be incredibly annoying in the beginning, but she grew on me because of the depth the writers gave her. Amy went from a wilting wallflower to a vibrant sunflower and she will always be one of my favorites."
Her work on screen not only resonated with audiences but also earned Bialik her first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series in 2012. This was followed by three more nominations over the next three consecutive years.
In 2013, in the throes of her newfound "The Big Bang Theory" success, Mayim Bialik's personal life experienced a major upheaval when she and then-husband Michael Stone divorced after 10 years due to "irreconcilable differences." Therefore, when Amy and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) tie the knot in the Season 11 finale ("The Bow Tie Asymmetry") and Bialik was forced to wear a wedding dress, it brought up difficult emotions. Amy may have been bursting with excitement, but behind the scenes, Bialik was uncomfortable.
She said in a , "I tried to be married once. I was in that position, and I failed." Bialik went on to admit that she feared people would pity her while watching the highly anticipated episode. Despite these feelings, Bialik went through with the episode and gifted "Shamy" shippers with one of the sweetest moments between the two. Though Penny and Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) aren't fans of Bialik's dream dress, Sheldon is enamored with the fact that his bride resembles a pile of swans.
It's possible her on-screen marriage helped Bialik move past her sense of failure because three years later, she began dating current boyfriend Jonathan Cohen, with whom she now co-hosts the "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown" podcast.
Though Mayim Bialik had no idea what she was getting into when she auditioned for the part of Amy on "The Big Bang Theory" (), she found a home on the Warner Bros. set. Therefore, when it came time for the sitcom to come to an end, she struggled to accept it.
In a February 2019 , Bialik explained how she experienced the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance — as "The Big Bang Theory" approached its conclusion. At first, Bialik feared what her life would look like moving forward. She was also saddened by the fact that she'd likely lose touch with many cast and crew members after spending countless hours together. But in the end, Bialik acknowledged that she couldn't change things and learned to embrace whatever the future held for her.
In "The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series," Bialik said, "Life is enormous and my life in the years on 'The Big Bang Theory' were some of the most grief-heavy, complicated years for me, personally. It was kind of like, 'OK, what next?' That had to be my attitude, and it still is. But I had nowhere else I would rather be, and I would have been happy to be there until people weren't watching anymore."
It didn't take long for Mayim Bialik to return to television. Two years after "The Big Bang Theory" wrapped up, she began executive producing and starring in "Call Me Kat," a fourth-wall-breaking sitcom adapted from the hit BBC series "Miranda." In many ways, Kat is very similar to Amy. When audiences meet her in Season 1, she's single, not great at fitting in with the norm, and is trying to forge her own path in life, ultimately breaking free from her mother's expectations.
"Call Me Kat" ran for three years, including during the throes of the pandemic, but abruptly came to an end in May 2023 after a decline in ratings. In a sentimental , Bialik said, "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday ... We made a lot of people laugh during COVID in ways that at first seemed impossible. But with this incredible cast — Cheyenne, Swoosie, Julian and Kyla — and, of course, with the late Leslie Jordan, all things that seemed impossible became possible."
It's only natural that, given their status as the stars of a major television show like "The Big Bang Theory," the public would be curious about the cast's personal lives. However, being in the spotlight comes with its challenges, which Mayim Bialik understands all too well.
Over the years, her opinions about certain topics — especially vaccines — have received much backlash. In 2009, she revealed that she hadn't vaccinated her children after conducting research and having discussions with their pediatrician. More recently, Bialik said her kids are now vaccinated but don't have as many as the average American child. She told , "I have a lot of questions about the vaccine industry, as do a lot of people. I have a lot of questions about the profits involved."
Her commentary on other matters — such as her belief that hormonal birth control leads to increased rates of mental illness in women and that, as someone who's not the standard for Hollywood beauty, she was gratefully overlooked by ill-intentioned, powerful men like Harvey Weinstein — landed her in hot water. Regarding the latter, , claiming she never meant to make Weinstein's victims feel as though they brought his actions on themselves due to their looks. "You are never responsible for being assaulted," Bialik stated. "I am truly sorry for causing so much pain, and I hope you can all forgive me."
As "The Big Bang Theory" came to an end, Mayim Bialik feared she'd lose touch with her on-set friends and colleagues. However, her worries were for naught, and Bialik has maintained connections post-show. For example, it was because of Jim Parsons that she landed the titular role on "Call Me Kat." On Bialik revealed that her former on-screen husband informed her that his production company was adapting "Miranda" for American television.
At first, Bialik thought he was simply informing her about his latest endeavor: "I went home, I did a little research, and I came back the next day, and I said, 'Well, Jim, that seems like a really awesome project. Good luck, you've got my vote of confidence!' And he said, 'No, I'm asking because I want you to be in it!' I was shocked because I think I'm very annoying. But however annoying I am, he obviously still wanted to work with me."
Bialik also stayed in touch with Stuart Bloom actor Kevin Sussman, who appears in a Season 3 episode of "Call Me Kat," and Simon Helberg, who Bialik directed in "As They Made Us," which she wrote following the death of her father. Bialik said in an interview with , "It was very, very special to work with Simon; I basically wrote with him in mind, but I never thought he would do this movie."
Though Amy is the one trying to push her physical relationship with Sheldon along, she has no experience when it comes to intimacy. Sheltered by her mother, Amy is, essentially, a late bloomer when it comes to these things. As a neuroscientist, Bialik took to her Grok Nation blog to discuss the notions of modesty, boundaries, and more, which caught the eye of publisher Penguin Books.
Bialik was asked to write more about the female experience as a whole, including everything from puberty and dating to a woman's impact on the world, and penned "Girling Up: How to Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular." The book, released in 2019, boasts a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and rave reviews from readers. "Not being explained most of these things as a young girl made it difficult for me to be able to communicate them efficiently with my step daughter," review reads. "This book is perfect for you and your daughter or any female who may need some guidance. Which we all do. She does such a good job putting it all into a non judgemental perspective."
reviewer says, "The author is a mother, but her voice in the book is more of a mentor, a mentor who wants the very best for the reader," though they do warn that some of the content might be too mature for preteens.
Following the death of longtime "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, Mayim Bialik and legendary show contestant Ken Jennings began alternating as the game show's hosts. It was a new environment for Bialik, and audiences certainly took notice. Ever since accepting the "Jeopardy!" gig, Bialik has received much negative feedback from viewers, with the main point of criticism being how she moves the game along.
On Reddit, "Jeopardy!" fan says, "It's her rhythm. It gets in the way of the game. As it's been said by a few people: Ken knows the answer; Mayim needs to check whether the answer is right or not. But it's not just the answers. The way she conducts the game is just halting in a way that Ken (and Alex of course) is smooth." has a few gripes about Bialik's hosting skills, but their biggest pet peeve is the long pause she takes before telling a contestant, "That is correct." Others, like, , feel Bialik is better suited toward special editions of the show, such as "Celebrity Jeopardy!."
Still, according to Michael Davies, executive producer of "Jeopardy!," there isn't a decrease in ratings when Bialik takes over from Jennings. "When Ken is hosting and Mayim is hosting, there's zero difference," he told . "It's exactly the same and that's the broadest part of the audience." Bialik was also Emmy-nominated in 2023 for Outstanding Host For A Game Show, which means she's doing something right.
In the midst of her continued television career, Mayim Bialik hosts the podcast "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown," which sees her discuss various topics surrounding mental health with an array of guests, including her old "Big Bang Theory" co-stars like Melissa Rauch and Simon Helberg. In each conversation, both serious and hilarious aspects of their lives are revealed. Helberg is candid about his mental health struggles, while Rauch, a massive "Blossom" fan, recalls trying to be cool the first time she was in Bialik's presence.
Every episode is co-hosted by Bialik's boyfriend, Jonathan Cohen, who helped her launch the podcast in the throes of the pandemic. Bialik told , "... [M]y partner Jonathan and I have a shared passion for mental illness and mental illness education. So many more people have either occurrences of mental health challenges or they were experiencing intense anxiety for the first time in their life. So many people didn't even know what to call it or what it was or what you could do about it. So we decided to start a podcast ... The idea is to explore all the aspects of mental health that many of us are not told about."
Bialik may have been anxious about what life would look like after "The Big Bang Theory," but so far, things are going pretty well. She's acting and directing, all while shining a light on how mental health battles don't discriminate.