Skip to main content

One 'Great Note' That Jeopardy's Mayim Bialik Has Been Given By Producers About Her Hosting Skills

Mayim Bialik hosts Jeopardy!
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Nobody expected the job of replacing the iconic Alex Trebek as Jeopardy! host to be an easy one, but we couldn’t have foreseen just how tough such an undertaking would be. Even with the current semi-permanent solution of having Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings share duties for the rest of Season 38, it’s unknown what the future holds. Meanwhile, Bialik and Jennings are just trying to evolve their bearings in a position that had been mastered by the man who previously stood behind the podium for 37 seasons. It’s definitely a learning process, and Bialik recently revealed one aspect of her hosting skills that sparked producers to request a change. 

Fans of Jeopardy! are so passionate — and Alex Trebek was so respected in the position he held until his death in late 2020 — that it was to be expected that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings would face comparisons and criticisms when taking over hosting duties. Bialik, in particular, took some heat and has had to apologize for changing up some of the show’s verbiage, among other things. She’s admitted that hosting is “very difficult,” and she recently revealed to The Daily Beast a note she was given regarding her tone:

I think as a woman there’s a special consideration, because when women sound definitive or stern it’s a different message than when men sound definitive or stern. And a lot of times when people will say, ‘Oh, you sound like you think you know it all,’ I’ll think, gosh, that’s just because I’m using an affirmative voice. One of the neat things about having a woman in this role is it’s bringing up a lot of questions about the labels we put on those things. One of my biggest challenges is I’m so impressed that people know the answers that they’ve asked me to tone down how excited I am when people get them right, which I think is a great note to get.

It's interesting to think about how having a woman reading the clues and reacting to answers, rather than a man, could change any aspect of the game because of the different ways their tones are interpreted. In trying not to sound too stern, Mayim Bialik may have gone too far on the side of sounding excited for the contestants who correctly answered a question. Which, to be fair, she generally is. With the fast-paced, straight-forward nature of the answer-and-question game, constant excitement and jubiliation would definitely be a departure from so many years of Alex Trebek's semi-monotonous vocal patterns.

The Call Me Kat star sounded grateful to receive the feedback, at least, as she likely understands that she could come across as impartial for celebrating certain contestants doing well, and not others. It's far better for hosts to be as objective as possible in these cases, as not to spark outlandish conspiracy theories. It seems that Bialik is happy to do whatever makes producers (and the fanbase) happy, as she hopes to continue her hosting duties past Season 38.

Former Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu previously voiced his support for fellow champ Ken Jennings to take over the hosting position full time, as he was seemingly who Alex Trebek wanted as his successor. Mayim Bialik, however, noted that she had met Trebek’s family and received their blessing to continue, should the offer come. And if it does, I don't think the producers would be mad about her excitement in that context.

Stay tuned for yet more news about who will continue hosting Jeopardy! past its current season, and check your local listings to see when the classic game show plays in your area. Be sure to also take a look at our 2022 TV Schedule to see what new and returning shows are premiering soon.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.