What You Never Knew About Jessica Tarlov

Jessica Tarlov grew up in a house that was built on the bones of a Bazzini Nuts factory. Her parents were filmmakers, and her sister, Molly, would one day follow in their footsteps — albeit in front of the camera and not behind it. Tarlov's childhood consisted of going to school like any ordinary kid while periodically taking extended periods off school to join her parents on film shoots. She and her sister would do a form of homeschooling during this time as they jetted across the globe. It's not a bad way to grow up — by the time Tarlov graduated high school, she'd seen more of the world than most of her peers.

Like any kid, she believed silly superstitions and myths — she was sure that drinking coffee would prevent her from growing tall, and she reiterates it even as an adult, perhaps because the lack of caffeine during her childhood seems to have done the trick (maybe she was on to something?). "[I] ended up 5'11 with no caffeine addiction," she told USA Today.

These days, Tarlov is a familiar face on Fox News' "The Five," a segment dedicated to political commentary from both Republicans and one lonely Democrat (Tarlov is the lone Dem). She has the ability to both infuriate and appeal to right-wingers, which is not an easy feat by any means. Tarlov is a woman who's full of surprises, and if you think you know everything there is to know about her, think again.

She's a terrible cook

She might be able to hold her own in a fiery political debate, but once she steps into a kitchen, Tarlov turns into an ordinary citizen who would get berated by the likes of Gordon Ramsay. Even though her father loved to cook, Tarlov didn't inherit his gift for creating delicious dishes in the kitchen.

When USA Today asked Tarlov what her day usually looks like, she rambled off the typical list most of us would give: Trying to exercise (and then failing to do so), going to work, hustling, infuriating Republicans on Fox News, having dinner, and then going to bed. In between all the hustling, a woman's got to eat, and Tarlov's go-to dish is — wait for it — a jar of peanut butter. "I do a fair amount of evening shows at Fox so am often there until about 8, and then I go out to dinner because eating peanut butter out of the jar is the extent of my cooking," she admitted. She also revealed that she typically ends up with a jar of peanut butter in her hands instead of a dumbbell on the mornings she attempts to exercise. Tarlov is nothing if not relatable.

She never wanted a career in television

Jessica Tarlov might look like an absolute natural on TV, but when she was younger, she had no desire to follow in her parents' footsteps and spend all her time behind a camera — or in front of it, for that matter. "My sister is the TV person in the family," she told the Washingtonian. Tarlov wanted to live outside of the spotlight and pursued academics instead.

Having never wanted to do television work, she was nervous when she first started her on-screen career, and with good reason. When you're commenting on politics, you are bound to make some people angry, and they can tell you how much they disapprove of you in your social media feed. Tarlov's had to deal with the likes of former President Donald Trump telling the world that he can't stand her voice. "[H]er VOICE is grating and unendurable," Trump wrote in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social (via Newsweek). "I find her impossible to take in large doses," he added. He also called her "absolutely terrible."

That's enough scathing commentary to make anyone want to run in the opposite direction, but Tarlov, despite her initial jitters when she first stepped into her television career, now breezes through it. "[T]here are conservatives who have watched me go from you-are-super-scared-to-be-on-TV to as comfortable as I am now who will defend me if they see people going after me," she told the Washingtonian.

Her parents have always been her inspiration

Even though she never planned on following in their footsteps career-wise, Jessica Tarlov's parents have always been her greatest inspiration and motivation. They were her mentors and taught her how to think outside the box, something that comes very handy in her current career. "They're brilliant, bold thinkers that always pushed me to experiment academically and professionally," she told USA Today.

Her parents also told her to always opt for the path less traveled. "Having support to take a zigzag path to get where you're going — and to be cool with not knowing where you're going at all — has made each phase of my career that much better," she said, adding that her parents' marriage was an additional inspiration. "[It's] total #RelationshipGoals," she gushed.

Her parents were very supportive of her career — for Tarlov's father, however, watching her engage in political debates on Fox News was nerve-wracking, she told the Los Angeles Times. He didn't use it as an excuse to opt out of supporting his daughter, however. Instead, he had her mother watch it first, probably so she could prepare him for what he was about to see beforehand.

She actually worked with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been compared to former President Donald Trump on various occasions (honestly, their physical resemblance is uncanny), so it might surprise some to hear that Jessica Tarlov worked for Johnson before she joined "The Five" team as a Democratic host.

The year was 2012 and Johnson was campaigning to be re-elected as the London mayor. At the time, Tarlov was in London too — she spent her junior year in college studying at the London School of Economics and went on to do her Ph.D., which eventually led to her being around when Johnson launched his re-election campaign. In an essay she wrote for The Hill, Tarlov answered the question on everyone's lips: Why the heck was she working for a British conservative? Her answer was pretty straightforward. "Conservatives over there aren't anything like conservatives here in America, and he was running against former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a known antisemite who claimed it is 'not antisemitic to hate the Jews of Israel,'" she wrote.

"He [Johnson] has an appeal to people like nothing you've ever seen, very similar to how cultish people got about Trump," Tarlov told the Washingtonian. "It was weird. He'd do something really embarrassing and he'd get a poll bump. He could survive an 'Access Hollywood' tape, too," she added. "Access Hollywood" tapes aside, Johnson didn't survive Brexit, and Tarlov says it's because he ultimately lost the public's trust.

She actually gets along very well with her fellow co-hosts on The Five

It might not look like it, but Jessica Tarlov actually gets along with her co-hosts on "The Five" just fine. Yup, we're as shocked as you are. While their discussions on-screen can get super heated, it appears the show's hosts have the uncanny ability to leave what happens in the studio behind the moment the cameras stop rolling. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, executive producer of "The Five," Megan Albano revealed that there aren't any fights among cast members about what happened in the studio once they go backstage. "You can't have a cast that doesn't genuinely get along," Albano told the outlet. This might very well be true — fans of the show will remember that Tarlov's co-hosts threw her a baby shower on air after news of her pregnancy became public.

Tarlov also got along with Republican firecracker Tomi Lahren on "Hannity." Lahren even told the Washingtonian that Tarlov is a "level-headed liberal and opposition voice," The show's host, Sean Hannity, found the two women hitting it off in the green room on one occasion, and playfully told them "Remember, you guys have to fight in a minute," Lahren recalled. Well, it appears those with political differences can get along after all.

She chose not to be addressed as a doctor, despite her academic qualifications

Jessica Tarlov is an academic wizard. With a Bachelor's degree in History and two Master's degrees in political science and public policy, it makes sense why she's so good at her job as a political commentator. To top it off, she also holds a Ph.D. in Government. Yup, that's a mouthful, and if you've been paying attention to all her various academic credits, you'll notice that Jessica Tarlov is, in fact, a doctor in her field. So, why does no one know this? Better yet, why doesn't anyone call her by this title? 

"Dr. Jessie" has a nice ring to it, but Tarlov says that she decided to drop the title in her professional career. "I thought it was a little Doogie Howser," she told the Washingtonian. "I didn't want to fit — even though I guess I do — some liberal, elitist, ivory tower persona that's been created," she added.

Some conservatives actually like her

Jessica Tarlov has managed to touch some conservative hearts, but many old viewers weren't initially very welcoming toward her when she joined "The Five," and she still receives harsh criticism to this day. However, Tarlov has noticed a change in how some conservatives engage with her on social media.

"Big conservative accounts on Twitter won't necessarily come at me about personal things, but are treating what I'm saying as part of the dialogue," she told the Los Angeles Times. "It's a shift that I think is important, and obviously preferable to being told that I'm too ugly to be on television," she added.

Proof that Tarlov has indeed been able to reach people outside of liberal circles is some of the messages and gifts she's received from conservatives. She tearfully told the Los Angeles Times that some viewers sent her hand-crocheted blankets while she was pregnant. Some senders included notes in which they expressed their disdain for her political views but added that they knew she'd be a great mother. "Those aren't Joe Biden voters suddenly," Tarlov said, adding, "But that's why this job is so fun. I would never know Dolores from Las Vegas, who watches 'The Five' every day, and was moved to spend her time knitting this blanket for my to-be child, without speaking to people who don't see the world the way that I do. And to be part of their daily life like that is a huge honor."

She doesn't mind the verbal battle between her and her castmates on The Five

Jessica Tarlov sees her job as an opportunity to make complicated political matters more digestible to her audience. "To make information that the audience and even your co-panelists don't want to hear palatable and maybe also see the rightness in it is the trick," she told the Washingtonian, adding, "You can't take yourself so seriously that you're like a harpy, just like yelling all the time. You can't do any of that."

Don't the interruptions from her co-hosts drive her nuts, though? Tarlov says no. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, she said that she thinks the interactive discussion is what makes "The Five" shine. "The point of the show is that it mimics real life," she explained. And, like in real life, Tarlov calls out her co-hosts when they're presenting the audience with inaccurate information. Fans of the show might remember her telling Judge Jeanine Pirro that "yelling it doesn't make it true," when Pirro insisted that Donald Trump was more than compliant with the investigation concerning those secret documents authorities dug up all over Mar-a-Lago. 

Yes, things get heated sometimes, but Tarlov still enjoys the job, especially because the show allows its hosts to be themselves and doesn't try to script the way they express themselves. "I find it funny. As long as I can ensure that I am not actually thrown off and don't get to finish my point, I like the back-and-forth," Tarlov said.

She is a big fan of Hillary Clinton

In a piece she wrote for Fox News after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Jessica Tarlov described herself as "an admitted Hillary fan-girl," adding, "[E]ven the coldest hearted Republicans will have to admit that she has always wanted every American to have health care, a chance at a quality education and opportunity for a bright future."

Tarlov, like many other Democrats, was incredibly disappointed when Clinton wasn't elected president. When Grazia did a piece on the election results, Tarlov also weighed in, saying that the upside was that polls showed many Americans still want a female president. "[I]t's just clear that Hillary wasn't that choice for Americans," she explained. "Feminism in the 21st century is radically different than in previous decades, and Clinton ran up against a group of women who see their identity as much more complex than just gender first and foremost," she said.

In her piece for Fox News, Tarlov expressed her disappointment over the lack of support Clinton ended up receiving during the election, and that she had hoped the election would be a classic example of women supporting other women. "And not just any woman. This woman," she wrote. She ended her article on a positive note, however, saying that she's certain that Clinton will continue to leave her mark. "Whatever Hillary does, she's going to keep giving 200% and taking abuse. And for that, we should thank her," Tarlov concluded.

She thinks that being the vice president is a thankless job

A couple of months after President Joe Biden took office, there was plenty of criticism geared towards his history-making vice president, Kamala Harris. There were whispers that she was not up to the task, and they were so loud that Biden eventually addressed them in a statement, assuring the public that Harris is a valuable asset. Still, many continued to doubt she could do the job, and naturally, this topic came up for discussion on Fox News' "The Five."

While many of the hosts agreed with some public perceptions that Harris simply isn't cut out for the job (Jeanine Pirro said outright that Harris is lazy), Tarlov had a different perspective. "It's a thankless job, being VP," she said, adding, "You're there for whatever you bring to the ticket." Tarlov continued to explain that a presidential candidate usually chooses a running mate that helps them solve some kind of problem — in Biden's case, choosing Harris as his running mate made him appealing to African-American women, who make up a significant number of Democratic votes. Tarlov explained that it was up to Harris to carve out her own role during her vice presidency. "She needs to get on board with, this is a thankless job, I need to make it my own, and add some flair and pizzazz to it," Tarlov said, adding that Biden also has a responsibility to support Harris, but that she believed he was already doing so.

Jessica has considered running for office one day

There's no doubt that Jessica Tarlov is an expert in all things politics (you have to be if you want to hold your own on a show like "The Five"), so it's not much of a surprise that she's toyed with the idea of making a move from TV show host to government official. "I think about running for office someday and I know I'll always keep my foot in the political door," Tarlov told USA Today in 2017. She credited former President Donald Trump's unprecedented victory in 2016 for this ambition. "Perhaps the one good thing President Trump has done is open the door to non-politician politicians. I could see myself taking advantage of that and hope a lot more young Democrats will, too," she said.

Tarlov might very well end up making a success of that endeavor. If she ever decides to follow in Trump's footsteps and run for president, she'll surely breeze through the debates — she does that for a living, after all. In one memorable episode of "The Five," she managed to turn criticism of President Joe Biden's competency into an attack on Trump instead, and she did it without batting an eye, reciting some of Trump's latest "cognitive beauties," as she put it, to her co-hosts, which, among other things, included a quote from Trump where he claimed one needed and ID to buy bread. Her co-hosts didn't have any worthy comebacks.

Jessica took her father's death very hard

Jessica Tarlov and her father were very close. Shortly before he died, the two of them had plans to bag another Ph.D. together, she revealed to the Los Angeles Times. Sadly, this dream was never realized. Tarlov's father died of cancer before the two of them could fulfill another academic dream, but the worst part was probably the fact that he would never meet his granddaughter.

Speaking to Carry, Tarlov revealed that she was 20 weeks pregnant when her father died. "[T]he grief combined with postpartum has created an emotional rollercoaster that's tough to handle at home, let alone at work," she told the outlet. She admitted that no one who saw her on TV after her pregnancy and the loss of her father would probably have been able to guess that she was hurting so much on the inside. "[T]here's an internal struggle going on that needs your time and attention," she said, adding that it's so important to allow yourself the time to process and feel your emotions and not be hard on yourself when you don't have everything together. "It sounds clichéd, but you must be really kind to yourself," Tarlov added.

Something that helped Tarlov deal with the unimaginable loss was spending time with other moms. Having this community helped her heal and adjust to her new role as a first-time parent.

She was terrified that becoming a mother would damage her career

Jessica Tarlov might appear pretty coolheaded on "The Five" most of the time, but when she considered having children, she was very nervous about what it would mean for her career. "Like so many other women, I was petrified that getting pregnant and having a baby would set me back professionally," she told Carry. The type of work Tarlov does was also a factor — viewers would see her pregnancy progress in real-time, and she would have to show up and look perky even on her off days, and this made her anxious. "Being pregnant on TV is difficult. You're getting bigger, feel sluggish, and just don't feel you look your best even if you are 'glowing,'" she told the outlet.

As we all know by now, Tarlov's fears were never realized — her career is still flourishing, and her co-host, former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, was so excited about Tarlov's pregnancy that she practically blurted it out on air. Like any working mom, however, Tarlov often deals with mom guilt. "I felt guilty that breastfeeding wasn't for me — I lasted six weeks and could maybe pump one bottle per day at best — and I went on a business trip for a week to South Korea when my daughter was just four months old. I got a lot of eyebrow raises to both, but I had to do what was best for me and, by extension, my baby," she said.