A new "Jeopardy!" poll asks who should be host. Why are there only two options?

It feels as if fans are being asked to settle, when the show is supposed to inspire

By Joy Saha

Published April 14, 2022 9:02PM (EDT)

Jeopardy Game Show Board (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jeopardy Game Show Board (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

"Jeopardy!" still hasn't chosen a full-time host following the departure of Alex Trebek, but a new poll makes it seem that it's pretty much a foregone conclusion.

According to a poll conducted by TV Insider, our two possible candidates are Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik, which isn't terribly surprising since they're currently sharing co-hosting duties after the Mike Richards debacle.

According to the findings, Jennings is the popular pick amongst viewers. Out of a total of 29,683 votes, Jennings led with a majority of 70% with 20,885 votes while Bialik earned just 30% with 8,798 votes.

While Sony has made no decision at this time, speculation — and hope — quickly arose after fans noted that Jennings recently ditched his gig on the trivia game show "The Chase." Perhaps the sudden move was an effort to clear out his schedule for a bigger gig on "Jeopardy!"? Only time will tell.

Although the recent findings are exciting, we can't help but wonder why only two candidates made it to this poll, especially since it's not official. Any names could have been added. Yes, these are the two most likely candidates, but we'll admit we're still bitter from being yanked around with the promise of someone fresh and new behind the podium.

RELATED: "Jeopardy!" officially selects Mike Richards and Mayim Bialik as new joint hosts

Naturally "Star Trek" alum and "Reading Rainbow" icon LeVar Burton became a fan-favorite to possibly take up Trebek's mantle when the roster of guest hosts started rotating in last season. Sure, his "Jeopardy!" debut wasn't stellar, but as Salon's Melanie McFarland wrote, it only served "to emphasize Burton's humanity" and showed "how badly Burton wants this job."

Burton is in a better place now and has officially moved on

And while we're happy for him, it still does feel like settling. Must the choices be so limiting?

Jennings, who became the show's highest-earning contestant of all time, clearly has the smarts worthy of being Trebek's successor. But what he lacks is integrity. Shortly after he acquired his co-hosting gig, Jennings' old tweets mocking the disabled resurfaced online. Jennings later issued an apology, stating, "Sometimes I said dumb things in a dumb way and I want to apologize to people who were (rightfully!) offended. It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone, but that doesn't matter: I screwed up, and I'm truly sorry."

But shortly afterwards, Jennings was once again at the center of controversy after he defended his pal and fellow podcast host John Roderick, aka "Bean Dad." Roderick was slammed online for his questionable parenting methods and further condemned for his previous racist, antisemitic and ableist tweets. Has Jennings learned his lesson though?

Yes, it's difficult to meet the very high standards that Trebek established, but after having some very qualified names bandied about, Jennings feels like a consolation prize. He's fine. But a "Jeopardy!" host shouldn't just feel fine. They should inspire.


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Bialik, on the other hand, has never been the first choice with "Jeopardy!" fans. Despite that, she's continuously voiced her desire to host the show full-time. "The Big Bang Theory" star has been an avid watcher of "Jeopardy!" since childhood and on top of that, she also received support from Trebek's family to continue his legacy.

"I got to meet them when we dedicated the stage and just feel so humbled around them," she said during a red carpet interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I want to only honor. You can't match him, so there's no need to try, but do it continuously, and have their blessing and feel what they are doing is supporting that legacy."

But Bialik's own history is troubling. This is a show that showcases knowledge, learning and facts. For a woman with a PhD in neuroscience, however, Bialik has had a very disturbing track record of holding anti-science views. Plus, she's decidedly not even a fan-favorite and seems more of a fan of the show than a host.

Are these seriously our best candidates to embody a game show that encourages a curious and worldly mind? Has the show just given up the search altogether? These are questions we wish "Jeopardy!" never prompted.

 

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Joy Saha

Joy Saha is an editorial fellow at Salon, covering Culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Alex Trebek Brief Host Jeopardy! Ken Jennings Mayim Bialik