After leaving showbiz for a bit, Mayim Bialik has come back, forging ahead with what appears to be a renewed love for the medium.
Coming of off nine years on The Big Bang Theory in which she played Dr. Amy Farah Fowler, Bialik is now headlining her own new series, Call Me Kat.
In the series, Bialik stars as Kat, a singleton who at 39 decides to use her life savings to switch careers and open a cat café.
Joining Bialik on Call Me Kat in a behind-the-scenes capacity is her former co-star Jim Parsons, who played her love interest/eventual husband on BBT.
Bialik joined the cast of BBT in its third season and describes that experience saying, “[It] was like coming into the last semester of the last year of high school at a new school where you knew no one and there wasn’t even a locker left. Big Bang Theory was a finely oiled machine when I got there, which was really fantastic because there was very little pressure and they already knew exactly what they were doing.”
She adds, “I essentially imitated Jim Parsons for the first couple years, and that seemed to work.”
This action, she says, prepped her for her role as Executive Producer on Call Me Kat, but, “It’s a lot more pressure on me, personally; I’ll say that. But, also, it’s been just such a joy. I mean, I’ve never had a job like this. I can absolutely say that my time on Big Bang Theory was fantastic, and my time on [my earlier sit-com] Blossom was life?changing, but this whole team has made this, for me personally, the greatest job I’ve ever had.”
Explaining her aforementioned time away from acting, Bialik explains what transpired, saying, “I was in [the movie] Beaches when I was 12. I had just started acting the year before. I left the industry because I wanted to have an experience of being appreciated for what was inside and not just what I could offer people.”
She was 19 when she stepped away from the industry. During her personal hiatus, Bialik got a doctorate, had two sons, and spent time teaching neuroscience. She admits that she came back to acting for a very economical reason.
“The God’s honest truth is I was running out of health insurance, and I went back to acting so that I could literally just get enough insurance to cover my toddler and my infant,” She also confesses, “I had never seen The Big Bang Theory. I went to this audition, and it was a guest spot, possible recurring. I had no idea my life was about to change.”
She surmises, “Life is not always what you think it’s going to be,” adding, “I love being a scientist. I still am a scientist, and I do a lot of other things in science. But, you know, making you believe something, making you feel something, and entertaining you seems to be where the universe wants me….and now I have insurance!”
Discussing the genesis of Call Me Kat, Bialik says, “We are based on the BBC show Miranda.”
On both shows, the lead character breaks “the fourth wall,” speaking directly to the audience.
Because of this conceit, Call Me Kat has been tangentially compared to the multi award-winning series Fleabag, in which the lead character is also actively dating and tells the audience directly what she’s feeling.
About this comparison, Bialik says, “We like to point that out, with all due respect to Fleabag, and breaking the fourth wall, having this kind of dynamic, exceedingly eccentric and really life?loving kind of woman absolutely existed in Miranda. Fleabag, obviously, is a different vibe. We’re a four?camera sitcom [and Fleabag is a single camera series].
Parson adds, “It is on paper, easier to make these comparisons, but [Call Me Kat] is just completely its own beast. It’s its own machine very much being built around Mayim. I understand the comparisons, but I don’t feel them when I’m watching this show at all.”
Kat’s awkwardness in the dating world isn’t actually the sole focus of the narrative, says Bialik. “it’s not so much that she’s uncomfortable with dating, she’s uncomfortable with the expectations that have been laid are out for her, and I think that a lot of people will [relate to] that. What I love is that this is not a show about a woman trying to find someone, it’s a show about a woman trying to be happy finding herself and seeing what happens along the way.”
Bialik is also happy to see some individuality in her character, a trait that reminds her of shows from years gone by. “We’re showing a very nonconventional female, and I miss seeing women like this on television. I grew up really admiring quirky, multifaceted women and comediennes who weren’t afraid to be silly and sloppy and do pratfalls and things like that. So, I’m really grateful that we are showing a woman who is owning all of herself.”
One question, Bialik and Parsons have had to field is if Parsons will make a guest appearance on the show, to which Parsons says, “I don’t know, [but], I say ‘never say never about a cameo.’”
Speculating about the future success of the series, Parsons says, “I can’t speak for what’s going to work for [other] people watching, but I know, when I’m watching something good. I felt the same way about Big Bang before it premiered. I was, like, ‘this is working,’ and I feel the same way about this. I don’t know if other people will like it as well, but I know it’s good.”
Echoing Parsons thoughts, Bialik adds, “I can’t predict if people are going to love this as much as we love making it, but this is a very, very special environment. This is a very special woman.”
The element that makes Call Me Kat especially unique, says Bialik, is that she’s a woman who, “includes everyone in her world because that’s what makes her world interesting and colorful, and we’re including the audience [in that]. They’re in on her jokes. They’re in on her experiences because that’s how she views the world. Everyone is a part of it.”
‘Call Me Kat’ premieres after an NFL doubleheader on Sunday, January 3rd, at 8pm e/p on FOX. Then the series moves to its regular time?period at 9 e/p on Thursday, January the 7th.