In a recent essay she wrote for Variety magazine, Mayim Bialik reflected on the 1994 “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which her character Blossom of the titular 90s show was parodied with a large prosthetic nose.
In the essay, Bialik wrote about receiving targeted criticism for her “undeniably Jewish” nose as a young actor in Hollywood. Bialik was just 14 when Blossom premiered and, as she writes in her essay, an early critic of the show “said that my features did not seem to match one another. I was essentially being described as a Frankenstein of a teenager.”
When the SNL parody aired in 1994, Bialik writes that “it struck me as odd. And it confused me. No one else on the show was parodied for their features.” Given the popularity of SNL, Bialik writes that she knew all her friends would see the sketch and felt “ashamed.”
It was only recently, as denouncements of “Jewface” surfaced amid Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic-laden portrayal of Leonard Bernstein, that Bialik thought to revisit her own unsettling parody years ago.
“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’,” Bialik writes in Variety. “Many said they knew I was Jewish and it made them proud to be. That was so touching to me, and it still is.”
“I wonder how those girls felt when they saw an actress playing me with a comically prosthetic nose.”
The SNL alum who performed the bit, Melanie Hutsell, has been quick to express her regrets.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Hutsell said, “When we were preparing to do that sketch all those years ago, I was absolutely horrified that they wanted me to wear a prosthetic nose to play Mayim Bialik’s character, Blossom. I knew it was wrong.”
Hutsell explained in the statement that her refusal to go through with the sketch would have resulted in dismissal from the job. “Although I had and have always had a strong moral compass, I didn't have the strength to refuse to do the sketch after I was told I would be fired,” she said.
Hutsell she added that she had the chance to apologise to Bialik during an encounter a decade after the SNL sketch: "The whole situation haunted me for years, but thankfully I had an opportunity at an audition about ten years after the fact to look Mayim in the eye and apologize for what I did, to which she responded, 'I release you!' I took that to mean that she accepted my apology and that meant more to me than she will ever know," Hutsell said.
“If I could go back and change history, I would have refused to wear the prosthetic nose and taken the risk of losing my job,” Hutsell said. “That would have been the right thing to do.”