Pop culture institutions have become as much hot points for controversy as they are sources of entertainment. Star Wars fans are as likely to find fault for any number of reasons for new Disney+ series, while the Game of Thrones fanbase is known more for hating the latter seasons of the show than actually enjoying the rest. Harry Potter fans have their own issues to deal with, so we can dispense with that. But of all pop culture franchises, Jeopardy! has perhaps the most eagle-eyed fans of all and they just recently got online to point out a blatant mistake.
In a recent episode of Jeopardy!, the final round came down to an answer in the category of “19th Century Literature.” The clue was “This author first thought of a parrot before choosing another bird ‘equallly capable of speech.’” Do you see what thousands of Jeopardy! fans saw? That is right, on the television program with maybe the highest reputation for detail and education, the Final Round came complete with a blatant spelling error.
Jeff Weinstock, one of the contestants on the episode of Jeopardy!, won the round with the correct answer of “Edgar Allan Poe,” in reference to the author’s 1845 poem “The Raven,” in which the titular bird torments the narrator by repeatedly saying “Nevermore.” Weinstock wagered $4,202 on the influential mystery and horror writer, winning the episode with a total of $11,202 and displacing current champion Megan Wachspress. As a six-day winner, Wachspress will be returning for the Tournament of Champions in November.
The controversy over this successful Jeopardy final question and answer was compounded by the recent disqualification of a contestant named Sadie Goldberger after their answer of “Harriet Tubman” was deemed “illegible.” Fans online pointed out that it was a bit much of the long-running quiz show to make a very basic error on their own production said just after booting someone for writing an answer that many felt was still readable, but again, pop culture institutions are nothing if not havens of online argument.
It does not help the case of the Jeopardy! answer controversy that the show recently made another blatant mistake. Co-host Mayim Bialik recently cut-off then-champion Megan Wachpress after she stumbled over her words giving an answer, then had to be overruled by the show producers. Bialik’s tenure as a cohost has frequently been criticized (in part because of her previous, controversial public statements), and several other fan-favorite champions have been rumored to be taking over the permanent host role in the near future.
For such a long-running, beloved, and respected quiz show, it seems that Jeopardy cannot find an answer for its recent woes, including the hosting fiasco with former producer Mike Richards and public criticism from LeVar Burton. Since the sad passing of long-time host/pop culture Alex Trebek, the show has seemingly staggered from one controversy to another. Hopefully, there will be some end to it in sight and a return to the peaceful nerdy we expect from Jeopardy!