It’s Time for ‘Jeopardy!’ Fans to Let Go of the Alex Trebek Dream

The legendary game show Jeopardy! finally made it official, announcing its decision to keep Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings as the show’s permanent tag-team hosting duo. 

It’s an arrangement that the show’s longtime host, Alex Trebek, might very well have heartily endorsed, even if many fans refuse to do so.

Past and present 'Jeopardy!' hosts Alex Trebek, left, and Ken Jennings, are pictured after Jennings' 74-game record.
Past and present ‘Jeopardy!’ hosts Alex Trebek, left, and Ken Jennings, are pictured after Jennings’ 74-game record |
Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images

Bialik and Jennings are already in a steady groove

In December of 2021, Jeopardy! made the decision to allow Jennings and Bialik to host the show that had been without much stability since the death of its longtime face Alex Trebek in 2020. Trebek hosted the program for nearly four decades and finding his successor was proving to be nearly impossible.

Prior to the Bialik/Jennings team-up, the show had invited week after week of guest hosts to ostensibly “audition” for the hosting job. In the end, it was the program’s now-former executive producer, Mike Richards, who landed the job in 2021’s summer.

Almost as quickly, Richards resigned hastily from both his roles as showrunner and host following the unearthing of recorded offensive statements he’d made years ago, making for a wearying season for the show’s viewers.

Bialik and Jennings, in the wake of all that scandal, brought welcome predictability to viewers. Jennings was already more than a familiar face; he was Jeopardy! family, having set the record for 74 back-to-back game wins in 2004. 

As well, he earned the title of Greatest Player of All Time in the show’s tournament by the same name in 2020. That same year, Jennings was named the program’s Consulting Producer. Not bad for the kid from Seattle who thought it would be fun to audition for the show in the early aughts.

As for Bialik, her guest-hosting stint in 2021 impressed viewers and the show’s producers enough to hire the Blossom star that summer.

Alex Trebek had a soft spot for Ken Jennings

It’s safe to say that Ken Jennings could never have dreamed that he would be crowned co-host of the quiz show. What began as a hopeful venture to secure a spot on the show, hoping to just be able to say he’d won a single game, turned for Jennings into the most unexpected job of his life.

A former software engineer, Jennings is now considered one of America’s most well-known trivia kings, making a name for himself on other game shows including Master Minds and most recently, The Chase, along with other Jeopardy! alums Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer.

But before all that, he “worked” nearly 100 days with Alex Trebek. In Trebek’s memoir, The Answer Is… (for which he asked Jennings to record portions of the audiobook version), the Canadian-born host recalled getting emotional the moment Jennings lost his 75th game to contestant Nancy Zerg, referring to Jennings as his buddy.

Theirs wasn’t an uncomplicated host-contestant relationship; the two became good friends and remained so until Trebek’s death from pancreatic cancer.

The Alex Trebek era is over

And so we finally know, nearly two years after the iconic game show host’s demise, the new faces of Jeopardy! are the ones we’ve been familiar with over the past year or so.

Although many on social media strongly dislike Bialik’s glasses, her attire, and way of pausing too long before confirming contestants’ answers, just as many adore her and the style and personality she brings to the lectern.

And then there are the Jennings detractors who find him too stodgy and even snobby.

The truth is, many of the show’s fans are still hung up on Alex. It’s not easy to move past the late host’s academic and quick-on-his-feet bearing but move on we must.

Even during the guest-host parade of 2021, countless fans on social media regularly would argue for one guest or another to land the job because, invariably, “they remind me of Alex.”

For those who don’t like change, get used to it: Sony Pictures Studios plans on adding even more Jeopardy! prime-time games and more hosts.

The franchise is no longer a one-man show. Alex Trebek deserves all of the worship bestowed on him but it’s time to stop trying to fit a square peg into an Alex-Trebek-shaped hole and finally embrace the Jeopardy! we’ve got.

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