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Former Jeopardy Champ Shares Not-So-Positive Thoughts On Mayim Bialik And Host Debacle

2021 has been a year like no other for Jeopardy! fans, who have witnessed quite a bit of chaos in the aftermath of beloved host Alex Trebek's death in late 2020. With its celebrity-filled quest to secure a new permanent host featuring its share of ups and downs, Jeopardy! has faced a ton of criticism in recent months, tied largely to all things Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik. And the board-jumping former champion Arthur Chu is among those with less-than-glowing remarks about the daily game show.

Having wowed Jeopardy! viewers back in 2014 with his impressive 11-day win streak that was punctuated by his penchant for jumping around the clue board, Arthur Chu has also been a fairly publicly outspoken former champion, as he's also comedian with a strong social media following. In offering up a fairly wide-ranging array of opinions about Jeopardy!'s host situation to Newsweek, Chu shared that while he didn't personally have any major stakes in who becomes the permanent new host, he was partial to Ken Jennings getting the gig. In his words:

I was rooting for Ken Jennings as host out of solidarity as a fellow former contestant, and because it really seems like he was Alex Trebek's choice for a successor, hence Trebek giving him his cufflinks and having him narrate his audiobook. But ultimately most of what anyone would need to know to have an informed opinion is stuff that we'll never find out about without someone leaking it from behind the scenes.

Arthur Chu is likely speaking to the fact that, despite Ken Jennings succesfully leading the first batch of guest-hosted episodes following the show's post-Trebek return — albeit with some blowback over offensive jokes in years-old tweets — his name reportedly wasn't among those being considered for the longterm spot. Over time, reports came out claiming that former executive producer and short-lived replacement host Mike Richards was one of the biggest factors in Jennings not being favored behind the scenes. Eventually, however, Jennings was indeed announced to be returning once again as a temporary guest host opposite Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik, who was previously tapped to take over permanent hosting duties for primetime episodes and other special installments. 

arthur chu on jeopardy

(Image credit: Jeopardy)

Like many others, Arthur Chu believes that the mismanaged Mike Richards situation knocked off some of the show's polish, and he also didn't seem to be overwhelmingly pleased about Mayim Bialik's heightened presence. (She was given the daytime hosting gig in the interim as the search continues for a permanent host.) While comments about Bialik weren't nearly as pointed as the ones that were aimed at Dr. Oz and his hosting stint, they've still been prevalent on social media. Here's how he put it:

I find many of the comments Bialik has made about important issues in the past to be unfortunate and I strongly disagree with her past expressed opinions on issues like #MeToo and vaccinations. That said, while she hasn't given the apology I wish she would have upon being named to this position, she hasn't continued to push any of these ideas as host, and sometimes you have to reluctantly accept that all the famous people you enjoy seeing onscreen have something problematic from their past.

Recent years have indeed led to many awkward and unavoidable truths about many different celebrities all across the entertainment spectrum, ranging from racist and sexist tweets to dangerous and predatory workplace behavior to other heinous circumstances. So while he's not exactly pleased with things that Mayim Bialik has said in the past, he's at least appreciative that she isn't using the Jeopardy! podium to spread non-Jeopardy! opinions.

And now we'll leave things with what could be seen as Arthur Chu's most scathing assessment of current-day Jeopardy!, regarding the game show's preference to have a famed celebrity as host: 

The temptation to 'sell out' and to go for cheap ratings grabs is always there in TV, and Jeopardy! was lucky enough for a long time to have people in charge who consistently resisted it.

With a permanent hosting announcement hopefully somewhere on the horizon, Jeopardy! airs weekdays in syndication, so be sure to check your local listings to see when and where it's available in your area. 

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.