Fans of Jeopardy! feel like they’re being duped. Viewers are not happy with the process of finding a new host after a carousel of diverse candidates have come through the game show’s doors, and yet, it still seems like the next presenter will be another straight white guy.
After more than half a year of digging and searching for a new host, Jeopardy! seems to have found a replacement for the late Alex Trebek. LeVar Burton has taken the stage, Katie Couric, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Mayim Bialik, Robin Roberts, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie all tried out as hosts. And instead of switching up the palette, it seems like Jeopardy! is going to keep it pretty simple, non-progressive, and fairly boring.
Of course, it’s not set in stone just yet, but Variety reports that Mike Richards—who just so happens to be the show’s executive producer—is in advanced negotiations to move forward as the show’s host.
Let’s be real: Finding a successor for Trebek was never going to be easy. He was a class act and really set the tone for a game show that has managed to last nearly 40 years on-air. But when it comes to moving the franchise forward, fans were a little less than thrilled about the front-runner.
“The Jeopardy gig going to the inside candidate (who is actually the white male executive producer of the show) while they brought in a bunch of “diverse” guest hosts for appearances is basically the academic job market,” critical race sociologist Crystal Fleming posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Imani Gandy, a senior editor of law and policy at Rewire News Group, wrote, “Wait. Alex Trebek named a Black woman, Laura Coates, to succeed him and they went with a basic white man who also happens to produce the show? And they gave LeVar Burton, like, five days in the middle of the Olympics. Why even bother. Just give it to the white guy from jump.”
Kevin Young wrote, “So, having a diverse [group] of people audition for Jeopardy was a dog and pony show when they are going with their Executive Producer?”
Wait, so the executive producer of @Jeopardy staged a sham parade of guests hosts in the hopes of eventually crowning himself as the show's permanent host?
The juxtaposition of farce competition and game show is ironic and unsettling.
— Mr. Mo'Kelly 🎙️📺 (@MrMokelly) August 5, 2021
This was either leaked by his team in the hopes of accelerating early conversations or by someone who knows damn well it’s a terrible idea and wants to kill it. https://t.co/PKsSAFMEFJ
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) August 4, 2021
Actor LeVar Burton seemed to be a fan favorite given he had his stint on Reading Rainbow and has made his love for Jeopardy! very well-known. However, after hearing news about Richards possibly landing the job, Burton posted to Twitter: “I have said many times over these past weeks that no matter the outcome, I’ve won. The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and fans alike has been incredible!”
Fans also seemed to have enjoyed Robin Roberts. In a Reddit thread called “Diversity Fake Out,” one user said that the Good Morning America host “was the most ‘loose’” and “she brought some real energy and personality to” the role.
Another Reddit user commented: “Anytime there’s a single, highly coveted spot the bias ultimately wins out. You’re more likely to get diversity when you hire for multiple positions. When it’s a single spot it’s always ‘well, yes he’s white and male but he was the best person for the job.’”
Trebek passed away at age 80 in November 2020 after a public battle with pancreatic cancer. Many probably thought the show would not go on after Trebek’s untimely departure, but a wave of celebrities have since come forward in a tamer version of a Hunger Games competition for the top spot.