Alex Trebek's body was barely cold when the public started obsessing over who would take over for him as the king of syndicated game show television.
Without Trebek, what will Jeopardy be? Will the show be the same without his dry, measured interest in contestants' personal lives? Without the soft, cashmere sweaters he wore in those video clues filmed at one of the Smithsonian museums?
Jeopardy! hasn't really changed in the last 34 years. From the retro sets to the contestants' bad clothes, Jeopardy episodes filmed today still look like found footage from the '80s. And that's beautiful. But, change is coming now that Trebek, the show's biggest constant, is gone. Fans will need to embrace it or risk inevitable disappointment.
Ken Jennings, the winningest contestant in the show's history, was already selected as the first interim host for Jeopardy. I'm fine with Ken—he's a safe bet—but I'm hoping to see some other contestants from the show's past try their hand at the host job before anything is set in stone.
Here are the Jeopardy contestants I'd like to see host the show:
Austin Rogers: The gay bartender from New York who won $411,000 in 12 games back in 2017. Rogers is zany. He's wild-haired and quick-witted. In all my years of watching Jeopardy!, Rogers was the only contestant who actually made me laugh with his mid-show anecdotes. As the show grows and evolves and gains a younger Netflix/Hulu viewership, Rogers' high-energy off-the-cuff spirit could invigorate this next phase of Jeopardy. Fun fact: I went to the Irish pub where Rogers bartends in New York on St. Patrick's Day in 2018. I was too nervous to say I knew him from Jeopardy! but I ordered a Guinness from him. Please enjoy nearly 30 minutes of Rogers' best moments:
Watson: On the other side of the spectrum, the IBM computer that kicked Jennings' ass in 2011 could host if we want to cut out the personal bullshit and focus on fast-paced trivia. Is it just me or is Watson kinda sexy?
Buzzy Cohen: Cohen is an advertising music executive from Los Angeles who won nine games and the Tournament of Champions in 2016. Trebek called Cohen "Mr. Personality" because of his in-game quips. Cohen dresses in colorful suits and wears really thick round glasses. Some people think he's polarizing, but I always liked Cohen. I think he's got polish and pizzazz—big game show host energy.
Lilly Chin: Listen, Jeopardy has a diversity problem. Most of its well-known players are white men. Lilly Chin is that exception. She's the Stanford student who handily won the Jeopardy College Championship in 2017. Chin is perhaps most well-known for answering a Final Jeopardy question with "Who is the spiciest meme lord?" and wagering $0. I'm not saying it was funny, but it was definitely interesting. Fuck it, make her host. Let's get someone Very Online to run America's favorite game show:
My dream host is a random contestant named Mike: She was a crotchety old woman who lost in a game I watched back in college—Yes, a woman named Mike. It was wild. I've never forgotten her, but she is so nondescript and unremarkable that she's un-Googleable. She would be an agent of chaos. Mike, if you're out there, Jeopardy needs you.
I'm excited to see what Jennings does as interim host, though I worry he'll be too similar to Trebek while not being similar enough, creating an uncanny not-quite-right feeling. We'll see. Hopefully, some of these other weirdos can try hosting. Or, maybe we should cut the shit and just go with LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow. I am also not opposed to trying to raise Alex Trebek from the dead. I will be his Orpheus.