Jeopardy! Makes Huge Hosting Error That’s Called Out By Ken Jennings?
A joke Ken Jennings made suggesting the Jeopardy categories were actually meant for Mayim Bialik led some fans to believe he was being serious.
Jeopardy! has been riddled with blunders and controversy during its past two seasons. Fans already questioning the show’s integrity were up in arms again after host Ken Jennings joked that the episode’s game board was not intended for him. Categories like “Blossom,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Call Me ‘Cat’” referenced shows starring Jeopardy!’s other host, Mayim Bialik, leading fans to believe the host and game board matchup was an error.
As Jennings read the categories, he noted, “I sense a theme here,” and after he read the final category, a reference to Bialik’s sitcom Call Me Kat, he joked, “I’m not sure I was the intended host for this game board.” Jennings got some chuckles from the crowd, but many fans took his comment seriously. Viewers believing there had been an error quickly derided the show on social media.
On the Inside Jeopardy! podcast, producer and podcast host Sarah Whitcomb Foss talked about the fan reaction and clarified that Kennings was always the intended host for Bialik-themed game board. “They thought maybe we made a mistake, maybe we didn’t know who was hosting that day,” Foss said. “Please guys, they know exactly what they’re doing. And it was so much funnier that Ken introduced those categories.”
Foss went on to say that, knowing Bialik, the actress would not have been comfortable with topics obviously related to her career. The gimmick was best suited for Jennings, and was always intended to be for him. Jeopardy! fans may have been too quick to judge their beloved quiz show this time, but their readiness to point fingers is not without cause.
Since the passing of longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek in 2020, the show has struggled to maintain its pristine reputation. It is a daily show that has worked with a certain rhythm, focus, and style for decades. Now that the show has turned to new hosts, the rhythm is off, and mistakes have been made.
Some criticism from Jeopardy! fans are matters of personal taste; some don’t like Mayim Bialik’s pace, and others are tired of Jennings’ long opening monologues. Other criticisms have been focused on technical errors, such as the editing mistake that displayed an episode’s final scores in its opening minutes just a couple weeks ago.
The flow of Jeopardy! is important, but above all else, the show is about trivia. Its ruthlessly thin margin for error when delivering answers is part of its appeal; only the smartest survive. In recent weeks, the show’s hosts have come under fire for accepting incorrect or partially correct answers.
Ken Jennings accepted “Ewan Gregor” as a correct response to a prompt looking for Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor. Whether the errors are technical, stylistic, or simple lapses in judgment or concentration, Jeopardy! fans are concerned about the integrity of the show. In the world of social media, the show’s audience has not been shy about airing its grievances.
Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik started their rocky stint as the official hosts of Jeopardy! last summer after serving for most of the previous season as the show’s interim hosts. They replaced Mike Richards, whose succession of Alex Trebek was quickly canceled following controversy over offensive comments, sexual harassment, and a wrongful termination suit linked to Richards.
Jeopardy! fans have been through a lot the past few years. The changing of the guard has raised many questions for the series, but faithful viewers are sticking it out with hopes that Jeopardy! will find its answers.