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Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik’s Behind-the-Scenes Take of The Big Bang Theory Prom Episode

shamy-prom

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN LAST WEEK’S EPISODE OF THE BIG BANG THEORY, DO NOT READ THIS POST.

Last week on “TBBT,” all of our characters went to a prom we held on the guys’ apartment rooftop. We all got dressed up and it was a very fun episode to film. In this episode, Sheldon tells Amy he loves her. Big deal. Super big deal.

Here are my Top 7 behind-the-scenes tidbits about filming this very monumental episode.

7. Not Ready

Truth be told, I wasn’t ready for this. I mean, as an actor, I have to be ready for anything the writers throw at me. We all do. It’s kind of in our job description. But as Mayim, the person playing Amy, it threw me for a loop. I never know the arc of the plot for my character or our show, and I don’t know what the writers have planned for us for this year or for the course of the show. I had literally no idea this was coming, especially this early in the 8th season.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this leap for Shamy! It’s very exciting and I trust Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, Steve Molaro, and our incredibly gifted and intelligent staff of writers implicitly. But personally, as Mayim, it’s such a big step and I don’t know what it means in the larger scope of Shamy. I wish the writers had given me a heads up so I could have discussed it with my therapist beforehand!

6. Hair

This was the only episode you have ever seen where I wore hair extensions as Amy. (I wear them for every awards show or photo shoot you’ve seen me in. And while we’re on the subject, FYI, almost every woman and girl you see on television is wearing extensions. That’s just the norm nowadays. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting’s new hairdo, however, is all hers and all adorable if you ask me.)

Anyway. As an actress and as the character of Amy, I prefer to keep her as plain and unadorned as possible. I don’t mind her hair being stringy and a tad lifeless. I have fine hair. Big deal. It happens. My hair in real life actually has a bit of a wave to it (JewFro much?), but as Amy, my hair gets straightened and I insist on never changing her hairstyle except when she works in her lab, in which case she ties her hair back, as lab rules require.

In this episode, though, I allowed my hair stylist Rachael (a lovely feisty Irish woman who has won Emmys for her styling on “Dancing With The Stars,” so you can get the whole picture) to put some extensions in to create more volume for the curled hairstyle we chose. Truth be told, I really dislike sitting still for any amount of time, much less the time it takes for any elaborate hairdos. That’s a large part of why I don’t like Amy’s hair to be elaborate.

All of that being said, I love how the hair looked even though I was not used to having curled hair as Amy. It felt like a really special occasion, and given then fact that Sheldon dropped the “L” bomb, I think Amy was probably very happy he thought she looked pretty with her fancy hair. Maybe it’s what made him love her?!

Here are my extensions on my dressing room desk after a long day of filming.



5. Make-Up

My make-up on the show is also extremely plain. My make-up artist, Linda, is a gifted artist and she does my make-up for “Candid Camera,” the awards shows I go to, and other fashion shoots I do, so she does get to have fun with my face sometimes. On TBBT, though, she’s got to be bored as sin because I insist on the same minimalist make-up routine every week, which she applies in a different order just to keep herself from falling asleep! Some weeks she does brows first, then eyeshadow, then liner underneath my eyes; some weeks she does eyeshadow, then liner, then brows, and so on. I do listen to Linda when she gives me new lipsticks for every outfit I wear. Most are the same set of shades, but she says it’s important to try new things in make-up and in life and she is so wise and has so much incredible experience in this industry so I listen to her. (She has touched the faces of many of my favorite actresses and singers from the 70s and 80s and 90s, and she is literally an historical make-up artist.)

In this week’s episode, we kept Amy’s lack of hipness apparent with her choosing (my choosing) of an eyeshadow that matched her dress exactly; kind of a teal color. Kind of mitchy-matchy because that’s how Amy thinks to dress and accessorize. But Linda made it look really nice, I think. I resisted using false lashes (which every woman on television also wears–sorry to report if you had your hopes up that Hollywood actresses just have naturally long stunning lashes; it’s all smoke and mirrors!), but I followed Linda’s advice to load up my lashes with much more mascara than I usually do as Amy. So instead of hitting the lashes (as we say) once or twice, I applied about four to five coats of mascara for a fuller look. Totally doable.

4. Clothes

You may have heard me say that I love my job because I don’t have to wear SPANX. (You guessed it, folks: SPANX is pretty standard for every actress you see–and some actors!–unless you are Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and your body just is that amazing and smooth and sleek all of the time.) Amy never wears form-fitting clothes and I like it that way. I am a modest dresser (read here about how hard it is to find a modest dress for the Emmy awards!) but I don’t think frumpy is the only way to be modest. For Amy, she has more important things to think about than clothes, and she generally dresses however she wants to and doesn’t care and yeah, it’s kind of frumpy and not at all hip. I don’t really care about clothes that much either, which is fine! It takes all kinds of women to make the world go ’round, I say, right?

For this episode, the wardrobe department insisted on following our producers’ instructions and making Amy look more appropriate for prom than comedic or silly in her dress choice. I love wearing goony outfits as Amy, as the Las Vegas episode earlier this year demonstrated. I wore a black and white satin blouse, yellow and black lace vest, and patent leather yellow high heels.



But for this episode, we chose a flattering dress and they made me a little jacket to go over it since I don’t wear sleeveless and the dress is sleeveless.

As prom Amy, I wore a more form-fitting dress than I would have thought Amy would wear. I didn’t want to wear any dress that required SPANX, but this dress was certainly fitted enough to show off my curves, which many people wouldn’t know I have based on Amy’s wardrobe in general. I felt a bit…ervah is the word in Hebrew. Exposed a bit. Because I’m not used to Amy being revealing with her body. It was a salient and important reminder that being tznius (modest) isn’t about fear of sexuality or repression; as I have argued here time and again, it is about protection and value. For me, I value my body when it is treated as sacred. This episode was a departure for me as an actress and for the character of Amy, even though her dress was still very modest by most standards. (We see women basically in bikinis and/or lingerie as clothing on the street in Los Angeles most months of the year.)

I did not feel uncomfortable or unhappy in my dress; it was just something new to get used to. Even a small shift in what you allow of yourself to be seen can feel big if you typically cover up. It’s very interesting to me how that works!

3. Vulnerability

One of my favorite words and concepts was really put on display for Amy in this episode. Watch the scene closely. Several intimate and vulnerable things happen well before Sheldon declares that he loves Amy. When they talk with his bedroom door as a barrier, he says he’s scared because people are putting pressure on him. Amy is confused, and she goes to leave. Sheldon opens the door to catch her from leaving. He says she did look pretty to him.

Wow. That’s a biggie. Note that the way I portray Amy, I don’t have her expect these things of him the way people tend to in “normal” relationships. Every step he takes is laudable and beautiful because there is no expectation. That’s how the Shamy rolls.

Amy says she is “always” wanting more, but she does not hang her coat on that expectation coatrack the way so many of us do in relationships. She is fully aware that she wants more, but she is satisfied to be on this ride with Sheldon. Because she loves him unconditionally. She accepts him. She understands him.

When Sheldon acknowledges that Amy looks pretty, it is startling and lovely. It’s appropriate for their relationship. But Amy doesn’t need that in order to stay with him or be satisfied as a partner. The scene could have been her stomping her foot wanting him to say she looks pretty. She doesn’t want a forced compliment. She lets him find the feelings in his own time. That’s some sweetness. That’s the Shamy.

Here’s a picture taken off the screen of one of the monitors during rehearsal.



2. Love

Amy never thought Sheldon would say he loved her, which does not preclude that she assumed he might. It is the overt communication that sends her into her sweet panic mode. It’s not that he feels it, although that is beautiful indeed. It’s that he says it. And it’s also the way he says it: with his reasoning and his logic backing it all up. After all we have seen Shamy go through, this is the culmination of a communication in words, but the feelings in theory have already been present for years. Don’t you agree?

1. Uncertainty

I don’t know what happens next. I can tell you (NO SPOILER HERE I PROMISE) that since we filmed that episode, Sheldon and Amy have not discussed it. The way our writers operate, it’s not like a soap opera where every single plot line needs to be continued the following episode. We may let this sit for a bit to percolate, as we did the big kiss scene from last year (click here to read my behind-the-scenes take of that monumental milestone for Amy and Sheldon).

There is plenty of time to see what happens next. We are in no rush to overanalyze or over-identify (as my therapist says I tend to do) with what this means or doesn’t mean for our characters.

And this gives me, Mayim, the actress, an opportunity to sit in the uncertainty as well and just know that I can and will handle whatever our writers dish out.

Why?

Don’t know. I guess it’s my job, though.

Yeah. That.


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