Jeopardy! has been a mainstay of gameshow television for over 40 years. When it premiered in daily syndication in 1984, it did so with Alex Trebek as the host. The emcee dedicated his life to the trivia mega-hit for 36 years before his death from prostate cancer in 2020. Replacing the host with a recognizable and comforting voice would be no easy task. Everyone from football legend Aaron Rogers to daytime host Robin Roberts made guest appearances. Finally, the production team landed on two primary interim hosts. After producer Mike Richards was named the successor in August 2021, he was forced to step down due to controversial statements made years ago. Since then, The Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik and former champion Ken Jennings have shared hosting duties. However, some fans are calling for the former’s resignation.
Mayim Bialik is coming under fire from fans who are accusing Jeopardy! of having inconsistent rules. During July 1st’s episode, returning champ David Bzdak answered a question for Final Jeopardy! with a misspelled word. The question asked, “Mont Bellevue De L’inini is in the highest point in this European possession largely covered by the Amazon rainforest.” Bzdak answered with “French Guyana.” Bialik awarded him the answer, adding $3,801 to his winnings. Although the extra money didn’t make a difference as the defending champ couldn’t defend his title, fans quickly pointed out an inconsistency.
Fans pointed out that the correct spelling should have been French Guiana, a completely separate South American nation. While this is a relatively minor mistake and shouldn’t really make a huge difference, it directly conflicted with an earlier decision. A few weeks prior to the spelling misstep, contestant Sadie Goldberger lost under a questionable call by Bialik. When Goldberger waged $7,500 in Final Jeopardy! on a question, she was penalized for spelling. The answer was Harriet Tubman. However, Goldberg couldn’t finish the answer, and she lost the game. Fans called out Bialik for giving credit to worse handwriting and saying the contestant was robbed of a win. Even though the champion that won that game, Megan Wachpress, defended the performance, this new development shows inconsistency fans aren’t ready to accept.
The Jeopardy! co-host is no stranger to controversy. In a discussion with fellow actor Justin Long on her podcast, Bialik Breakdown, she spoke about the feedback and criticism she regularly receives. She recalls that fans have told her they want Ken over her as the permanent host. She says fans have been confused by how attractive she looks in magazines and how everything from her physical appearance and her nerdiness is fair game for criticism.
With an announcement coming soon about which of the two co-hosts will land the gig permanently, fans may get what they have clamored for. Recently, observant viewers have pointed out that Mayim Bialik’s other show, Call Me Kat, is scheduled to premiere in September instead of January. The increase in episodes from 13 to 18 makes some fans believe that her schedule won’t allow her to do both. This would leave the path open for Ken Jennings, Jeopardy!’s most winningest contestant, to take over for good.