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The past two years have been a wildly hectic time for the people and projects associated with writer and journalist Michelle McNamara, even though she sadly didn't survive to see any of it come to light. Her tireless efforts to bring the Golden State Killer to justice were posthumously achieved, and McNamara's latest achievement involves being honored in an extremely low-key manner through a pair of Jeopardy categories. As shared by her widower, comedian Patton Oswalt:
To many, those two categories might have looked random and unconnected, but for those who are fans of Michelle McNamara and Patton Oswalt, the pair almost certainly inspired a double-take. "It's chaos. Be kind," was a mantra-esque saying that McNamara had, which basically means to do good to others in a world where the opposite is always present. As a longtime atheist, Oswalt has stated that he uses those words as his form of a belief system, and he also brought them up in his Netflix special Annihilation, in which he spoke at length about his grieving process in the months after McNamara's death.
The categories were part of the May 22 edition of Jeopardy!, though because episodes are taped in the weeks and months ahead of airing, it's possible they were tied to the release of Michelle McNamara's bestselling true crime book I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, which pulled together years of research and played a huge role in the April 2018 capture and arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo.
The book is also being turned into an HBO docu-series, which is quite a direct way of honoring her work and efforts. Meanwhile, no mention was made of Michelle McNamara on Jeopardy!, though that should be taken not as a slight, but as a respectful head-bow not only to McNamara, but to her family, friends and fans. We're glad someone alerted Oswalt on Twitter about it, too.
This is just another sign that Jeopardy!'s Clue Crew is one of the most enjoyable writing staffs on TV. While there have always been fun categories and clues sprinkled throughout the games, the past few years have been downright full of clever nods and many more rounds where all the category titles are themed. Granted, most are punny and cute and aren't heartfelt tributes like this, but maybe I just wasn't catching on with some of the others...
Jeopardy airs afternoons and evenings and probably also mornings in syndication, so check your local listings to see when it plays in your area. In the meantime, check out Patton Oswalt's awesome Joker theory and then head to our summer premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that are popping up in the coming months.