After a handful of tabloids took issue with Meghan Markle’s description of her time as a suitcase holder on Deal or No Deal, the game show’s host Howie Mandel has come to her defense. In an interview with Us Weekly, Mandel said he didn’t understand the “big hoopla” around her comments, adding “for me, standing there with 26 women staring at me made me feel like a bimbo.”
Though Mandel, who hosted the show from 2005 to 2009, noted that the models play a slightly larger role on Deal or No Deal than they do on shows that only use them to point out prizes, he understood why the role would feel personally unfulfilling. “They just had me there to tell them to open up cases,” he said. “I mean, I get it. I felt like nothing. That’s why I moved on to become a judge on [America’s Got Talent]. I just needed to be more than a Deal or No Deal host. So I get it. For hours, there were 26 women, just staring at me like a piece of meat.”
Mandel was responding to comments that Meghan made in the sixth episode of her Spotify podcast Archetypes, where she explored the stereotype of the “bimbo” with Paris Hilton, comedian Iliza Shlesinger, and writer Clare Malone. Meghan didn’t say the Deal or No Deal role made her feel like a “bimbo,” saying instead that she was happy to have an income and health insurance yet she felt unsatisfied because she wasn’t using her brain and didn’t feel like an individual. She offered the example of one producer on set mispronouncing her name and criticizing her body. “Mark-el, suck it in. Mark-el, suck it in!” the producer said, according to Meghan.
Meghan said the feeling led her to leave the job after one season. “I ended up quitting the show. Like I said, I was thankful for the job, but not for how it made me feel. Which was… not smart,” she explained. “And by the way — I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me. But that wasn’t the focus of why we were there. And I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach, knowing that I was so much more than what was being objectified on the stage.”
Mandel said he thought Meghan wasn’t trashing the show with her comments. “I never heard anybody complain, and I don’t think Meghan is complaining. I think Meghan just said she wanted to do more. It wasn’t fulfilling for her,” he said. “It was a great workplace environment. I don’t even think she said it was a bad workplace environment. She was just talking about what was going on in her mind. Some people just show up at an office and don’t feel good about it and decide to change careers.”
On Wednesday, Us spoke to a source close to Meghan who said she wasn’t concerned by the initial response to her comments. “She’s learned a long time ago not to get too cut up or demotivated by those who wish to dwell in negativity, especially over something so trivial as a job she left many years ago,” the source said. “She knows that there are certain critics who will go to great lengths to stir the pot and call her out as a hypocrite in any way possible.”
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