So, strangely enough, the question of who should host Jeopardy! has not been resolved. It’s been 8 months since I first posted on this topic and we are still treading water. Who knew that this would still be going on more than a year after Alex Trebek’s death.
Having watched Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings go head-to-head in hosting duties for many months, I have to say that I generally enjoy Ken’s hosting more than Mayim’s, though I think she has gotten better. Ken’s knowledge and experience makes the game seem smoothly run – the board is cleared in pretty much every round, he’s more comfortable with chatting up the players than he was before, and he seems to have settled in well. Of course, recently there was another twitter incident, where Ken commented on something he shouldn’t have. Why, Ken, why? You were doing so well.
My reaction to the twitter thing is less about commenting on other people’s comments and more about trying to understand why people feel the need to publicly comment on things. I had the same reaction earlier (why the jeopardy! chaos matters to me) about Mayim’s practice of commenting on various topics that may or may not be controversial. If that is your role/job – to be provocative or express your opinion – then by all means wade into the fray. If your job is to be the genial host, then rein it in and fight the urge to comment on whatever is the current buzz. Or just comment to your friends and loved ones rather than to … the world.
The criticism of Mayim has always focused on a few things: her hawking of a questionable brain supplement, her comments on various topics made via podcasts and other media over the years, her views on vaccines, her untimely laughing while hosting, her seeming astonished when contestants correctly respond on the show, and her wardrobe sense (or lack thereof). I’m there for all but the last one – her public, professional choices are ripe for comment, in my opinion. She decides which topics to publicly comment on and which products to endorse. Her on-show behavior has improved – the laughing and surprise at correct responses are less frequent than they were when she started. Good job, Mayim!
I admit that I’m annoyed at the criticism or compliments about her wardrobe, hair, etc. It’s one thing if people are universal with the running commentary, e.g., that’s what they do with everyone … and not just women. The lastest iteration I saw was that someone was criticizing Mayim for wearing a jacket for the second time. Really? Even Royalty are known to wear something more than once … and someone is knocking a game show host for this? Has Ken worn the same jacket more than once? I’m guessing yes and, if so, has the commenter scoffed that Ken rewore a jacket? I was disappointed that Mayim seemed to say that she wouldn’t wear it again – I hope she was kidding. I’d have been happier to hear her say that she would be rewearing the jacket every Tuesday until the jacket fell apart. The outdated notion that women need to be showplates – and judged for how they look – and men can wear the same thing every day with no comments is ridiculous. And then she was praised for straightening her hair. Aren’t we supposed to be moving toward acceptance of the way people look. I don’t know … maybe she wants to straighten her hair … if so, have at it. I guess I just always hope for better when it comes to Jeapordy! and am saddened when reality doesn’t meet my expectations.
I’m also a bit concerned about the recent run of long winning streaks. It’s not that I like to see people lose, but I like to have three contestants who are equally matched. Also, I’m sick of seeing whomever is hosting fawn all over these mega-champions – it’s not fair to the other players, who end up seeming like an afterthought. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that most of the long-winning champions this season have not had annoying traits or had a “personality” that is distracting. The exception for me is the current champion, Mattea Roach, who bugs me – the hand gestures, the random comments, the facial expressions, and so on. I know she is very impressive, particularly for one so young, but I find her exhausting and will do a happy dance when she is no longer on my TV screen. I also know that many people adore her – that’s fine, we don’t have to agree. And Ken, we know you like her, but STOP with the daily monologues to her greatness – it’s getting a little embarrassing and it seems rude to the other players, who are having their own once-in-a-lifetime moment.
While I like the idea of having defending champions, I am wondering whether there should be a limit. There used to be a five day limit, though that seems a bit short. I’m fine with them having long enough to win a fair amount of money but not become fixtures. While I enjoyed Matt and Amy from earlier this year, I’d have been fine if they had shorter runs. People on television are like guests in my home – they chat, we may play a game, we learn something new … and, like fish, they begin to smell after three days.* Just saying …. So, while three days or five days may be a little too brief, I’d like them gone by the end of the month.
*Thanks for the quote, Ben Franklin!