Alex Trebek was always going to leave big shoes to fill. Ever since Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik were announced as the new co-hosts of Jeopardy! in 2022, fans have made their feelings about Trebek’s replacements loud and clear (emphasis on loud). We asked Jeopardy! legend Amy Schneider to weigh in on the debate.
It doesn’t take much internet searching to find critiques about both of their hosting styles, but for a long while, Bialik was getting the brunt of the criticism. Her hosting style on the standard Jeopardy! episodes was panned as less interesting than Jennings’ by fans on social media (and in our comments sections), but it’s hard to really pinpoint why.
Jennings, who hosts Jeopardy! Masters (but has been standing in Bialik’s place during the writers’ and actors’ strikes), seemed to be the preferred host because of his storied Jeopardy! history. But the social media debate (seen on Jeopardy! Reddit threads and other platforms like Twitter and Facebook) would have you believe that Bialik was horrible at her job. Watching the episodes, it’s clear that that’s not the case.
While Bialik may not banter with the contestants in the same ways as Trebek or Jennings, she’s still a perfectly fine host, and executive producer Michael Davies says there’s no noteworthy difference in ratings when Jennings is hosting vs. when Bialik’s on stage.
The Ken vs. Mayim debate has changed its tone in recent months, due in part to Bialik’s absence from the series amid the writers’ and actors’ strikes. Now, Jennings has received more criticism for agreeing to return to the show while its writers were on strike (the work stoppage ended on September 27).
Schneider shares her take on the social media debate, telling TV Insider that she has seen the “intense” comments online but doesn’t “get involved in it particularly.”
“I only had Ken as a host, so to some extent, I can’t judge exactly, but I loved Ken as a host,” Schneider shares. “I think that it’s so comforting as a contestant to know that he has been where you are, and I think he has a real feel for the flow of the game.”
While she can’t speak from personal experience about Bialik’s hosting abilities, Schneider reminds fans that Jennings’ footage gets edited just as much as any other host’s would.
“Hosting is a lot harder of a job than it looks,” she explains. “You don’t see. It’s all edited together to make it look like they never stumble over any clues or get anything wrong, but it’s really hard.”
Hear more from Schneider about the debate in the video above, and learn more about the Jeopardy! champ in her new memoir, fittingly titled In the Form of a Question, available on Tuesday, October 3.
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