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That Time Katharine McPhee Was In A Jeopardy Clue And Still Wouldn't Have Gotten The Answer

Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright on Smash.
(Image credit: NBC)

Appearing in a Jeopardy! clue has got to be a sign to any celebrity that they’ve made it. Kaley Cuoco seemed to think so, anyway, when she was name-checked on the classic game show for The Flight Attendant. You would expect, though — or at least hope — that if that time ever came, you’d at least know the answer to the clue you’re featured in. Unfortunately for Katharine McPhee, that wasn’t the case when her name popped up in one recent Jeopardy! episode.

The category was “Before & After TV,” and it was the $2,000 clue. Host Ken Jennings, who is sharing full-time hosting duties this season with Mayim Bialik, read the clue: “Spooky HBO show with references to H.P.'s works, with Katharine McPhee along as the singing nanny.” When none of the three contestants buzzed in, Jennings revealed the answer to be a combination of Lovecraft Country and Country Comfort. The actress shared a video clip of the question, admitting her own baffled reaction:

The Jeopardy! contestants shouldn’t be too hard on themselves for not guessing this one, especially if the Smash star didn’t even know it. The Before & After category can be tricky, because it requires contestants to actually figure out two answers to combine. Anyone who wasn’t familiar with HBO’s one-season wonder Lovecraft Country and/or Netflix’s short-lived musical comedy Country Comfort that starred Katharine McPhee were already at an extreme disadvantage. 

The biggest hint was that H.P. Lovecraft’s last name couldn’t be used in the clue because it was part of the answer, but you try putting all of that information together in 3 seconds. I can see why that clue was the $2,000, because it certainly turned out to be a stumper. 

Of course I’m sure many at home — other than Katharine McPhee — knew the answer and were shouting it at their TV screens, because that’s the fun of being an armchair contestant. It’s especially satisfying to get an answer right that wasn’t guessed by the reigning champion, and it’s always a little shocking when the history-making Amy Schneider happens upon a clue she doesn’t know. Schneider is on a 38-game winning streak, which ties her for second-place all-time with Matt Amodio. Ken Jennings holds the record in consecutive games won, with 74. 

This wasn’t the first time Amy Schneider was stumped on a pop culture question, however, as she and her fellow Jeopardy! contestants recently couldn’t identify Machine Gun Kelly by his initials “MGK,” despite the quiz show adding a photo of Megan Fox’s fiancé to the clue. No judgment here though! It just proves that different people are experts in different areas of trivia — a fact that seems to dispute fans who think the recent winning streaks are a product of Jeopardy!’s clues getting easier.

Perhaps Katharine McPhee would have had a better chance if they’d referenced her recent stint with husband David Foster on The Masked Singer? Maybe next time. Check your local listings to see when Jeopardy! airs in your market, and see what other shows are coming soon with our 2022 TV Schedule.

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.