Mayim Bialik has worn many hats — a childhood icon in “Blossom,” an Emmy-nominated “The Big Bang Theory” star, an IRL neuroscientist and author, a fictional single 39-year-old cat cafe owner in “Call Me Kat,” a host of “Jeopardy!,” a go-to source for Jewish holiday trivia, a mom of two. And now, she’s making her directorial feature debut with “As They Made Us.”
The film tells a story that may feel painfully familiar to many moms out there — of a mom trying to be the glue of her family, helping them connect and heal and take care of each other even when they refuse to do that for themselves.
Abigail, played by Jewish “Glee” star Dianna Agron, is her family’s self-appointed fixer. A divorced mom of two, she helps support her parents. Dad Eugene, played by Hollywood icon and IRL Jewish dad Dustin Hoffman, is dying of a degenerative condition that both he and his wife Barbra, played by the indomitable Candice Bergen, are trying to ignore. Abigail’s brother, Nathan, played by Jewish dad and “The Big Bang Theory” star Simon Helberg, has been estranged from the family for years.
If that’s not enough, there’s Abigail’s ex, played by Charlie Weber, who seems to be thriving while Abigail’s journalism career is fledgling, and her new crush, landscaper Jay, played by Justin Chu Cary.
Abigail is working hard to bring her family together. But will she be able to before it’s too late? And are her efforts worth the personal price that she is paying?
At the heart of this tragicomedy, which oscillates between flashbacks to a troubled young adulthood and the present day, is a mother-daughter relationship. Abigail is extremely close to her dying dad (“Abby, my Abby, you know me better than anyone, you know me better than your mother,” he tells her in the trailer). But her mom is a different story. Barbra will not stop interfering, controlling and sabotaging herself and her loved ones. The movie’s trailer shows her firing Eugene’s nurse, relentlessly calling her daughter and meddling in Abigail’s love life (to be fair, Jay doesn’t seem to mind). The boundaries aren’t there, yet there’s a draw to her funny, big personality, and also a lot of love.
Bialik’s first film looks like the sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes heartwarming exploration of family, boundaries and mental health we all need. It’s coming out in theaters and on demand on April 8, and you can watch the trailer now: