In January 2021 Jeopardy! announced its star-studded roster of guest hosts for the remainder of season 37. Among these were Ken Jennings, Robin Roberts, Mayim Bialik, and LeVar Burton. Ken Jennings was a Jeopardy! champion in 2004 and went on to compete in the Tournament of Champions. Jennings was the first guest host after Alex Trebeck passed away in November 2020. Mayim Bialik starred in the popular television shows Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, in addition to holding a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. She hosted Jeopardy from May 31 through June 11. After her run as a guest host, she was asked to host a spinoff series, Jeopardy! National College Championship, which is currently set to start airing in 2022. Robin Roberts from Good Morning America hosted from July 19 through July 23. She was the first openly LGBTQ woman of color to host Jeopardy!. Tarn Allen, 2014 Jeopardy! contestant, said, “I liked Robin Roberts a lot, she definitely had the right energy for [the show].” LeVar Burton, star of Star Trek: Next Generation and Reading Rainbow, as well as many others, first appeared on Jeopardy in 1995 when he won Celebrity Jeopardy. He then went on to be a guest host from July 26 through July 30, 2021.
Upon the ending of season 37 of Jeopardy!, it was announced that executive producer Mike Richards would be the permanent host. However, after Richards filmed one week of shows, he resigned due to backlash regarding sexist comments he made on a podcast a few years ago. Bialik and Jennings were selected to step in as hosts until the permanent spot is filled. Bialik will be hosting solo from September 20 to November 5, and will then share the job with Jennings through the end of 2021. However, recently, Bialik has sparked some controversy within the Jeopardy! fan base, particularly on her criticism of vaccinations. In a YouTube video she released in 2020, Bialik stated, “as of today, my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have, but my children are vaccinated.” She added that she thought children receive “way too many vaccines in this country.”
Some people think that it’s time for a woman to be the permanent host. Ilana Rembelinsky, a 2008 Jeopardy! champion and retired Beaverton teacher said, “I think women have been underrepresented on Jeopardy! as contestants, and obviously as the host. So I think that [having a woman host] would be cool, but I think the right personality probably overrides a gender-based decision.”
For many, it was an adjustment to watch Jeopardy! without Alex Trebeck. “ [Alex] was good at schmoozing with contestants, and with the audience. He had been doing it for so many years by then that he had it down cold. He was very comfortable. My impression, for example, of Ken Jennings is that he’s just not comfortable. There’s something kind of awkward and off putting about him, I don’t know if it’s his vocal quality or just this vibe of not being sure of himself. But Alex was just smooth,” said Rembelinsky.
Trebeck wasn’t just smooth, he also graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in philosophy, and was a member of the English Debating Society. Parker Clements (11), Franklin High School student and avid Jeopardy! fan, said when it comes to choosing a new host, “I think having an academic background is important. [Alex Trebeck] really took his job as a host seriously, and he also made the contestants feel welcome.”
Though no one knows who the new permanent host of Jeopardy! will be, it can be hoped that they live up to the standard that Alex Trebeck set and continue to make Jeopardy! both fun for the viewers and contestants for many years to come.