Ranking the Jeopardy! Guest Hosts So Far…

9. Dr. Mehmet Oz

Listen… I know we all need to get it how we can, but to the producers that thought placing Dr. Oz in the guest host seat was a good idea, I’m here to say, this wasn’t it. Of the nine fill-ins so far, Oz was the only one to spark petitions to have him removed expeditiously. And for good reason. Not only did he seem in over his head when it came to pronunciations, he never really connected with the contestants or the viewers at home, proving that he should stick to ad hoc medical advice and his Oprah co-sign.

8. Mike Richards

I get it. Executive producer Mike Richards had a close and long-lasting relationship with the late, great Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. And to be honest, Richards has done well honoring the talk show great’s legacy by constructing a roster of capable replacements and giving them the space to hone the craft and live up to Trebek’s legacy. However, continuing the game show and keeping it on an elevated level from behind the scenes is probably the best way Richards should proceed. He wasn’t horrible as guest host, but he also wasn’t what the show needs as a front man. Let’s hope he does what he does best and leave the hosting to those more qualified for the role.

7. Bill Whitaker

I must say, I was excited when I found out that CBS’ Bill Whitaker would be guest hosting the show. Not only was he the first Black person to become the face of Jeopardy! (even on a temporary basis), but also because I’m one of the few under-60 Black folks that watch CBS on a regular basis (I know, I know) and it was a good look to see Whitaker expanding his portfolio. Unfortunately his stint never made me feel like he should be the permanent host. He was more like the history teacher that’s good for a semester, but you kinda can’t wait to be done with his class and go enjoy your summer. Don’t get it twisted, I’ll still watch Whitaker cover the news, where he shines. I just feel like Jeopardy! isn’t his thing.

6. Anderson Cooper

If we were checking boxes to determine who should follow Mr. Trebek as host of Jeopardy!, CNN star/journalist/father to the most adorable baby Anderson Cooper would likely be atop the list. He’s affable, can handle the material, and has the charm and looks to captain the ship going forward. It’s not only a logical choice, it would probably be a popular one. Which makes his two-week stint filling in all the more disappointing. There was something… missing from Cooper as he manned the lectern. It was as if he knew he was only there for a short time and didn’t make it his own. And it didn’t help that the ratings were historically low during his two weeks. So it’s not looking good for Cooper, and he might not even want the gig. Which proves that everything that makes sense isn’t sensible. And every host that checks the boxes might just not be the square that fits the puzzle.

5. Buzzy Cohen

As one of two former Jeopardy! contestants that won big taking over the cue cards, Buzzy Cohen’s guest hosting gig was a seamless transition. He had personality (of course he did, which makes perfect sense after being named Mr. Personality by Trebek himself) and history on his side and it showed. His interaction with the contestants was free and easy, and his command of the clues was more than admirable. Cohen has what it takes to take over the hosting duties, and is definitely on the short list to assume the lead role.

4. Katie Couric

I need to make this clear: unlike most people, I really enjoyed Katie Couric’s run as guest host. I thought she was personable and did well with the clues. She initiated good banter with the contestants and kept the show running smoothly. Clearly her years as a journalist prepared her for the assignment. And maybe that’s the issue folks had with Couric: they expected her journalistic side and instead got her less journalistic, more fun side. It confused viewers and gave birth to mixed reviews, which is not what you want for a potential host. Besides, she didn’t want the gig full time anyway. So, there’s that.

3. Aaron Rodgers

If we were to use a sports analogy to describe Aaron Rodgers’ time as guest host, it would go something like this: the all-pro had a shaky first half, but regrouped at halftime and scored time and again during the second half, giving his team (well, just him really) a runaway victory. In layman’s terms, Rodgers showed some rookie jitters during his first week, which should’ve been expected given how much he wanted to do a great job. All of his research and preparation was great, except the nervousness showed. It wasn’t until he took a breath, relaxed a little and trusted himself that he made him hosting the show full-time a real possibility. Clearly the two former contestants are the frontrunners, but if there’s one thing you can never do, it’s count out an MVP when it comes to winning. We shall see.

2. Mayim Bialik

Of COURSE this is recency bias, but let me tell you something: if Mayim Bialik wants this job, the producers should strongly consider giving it to her. The former Blossom star came out of the gate strong, commanding the big board and forming an instant connection with each contestant. I’d never seen competitors seem so at ease with a host outside of Trebek until these past two weeks, when everyday at least one of the button-pushing question askers cracked a wide smile and looked more comfortable with each guess. And was Bialik prepared? Oh yes. Her follow-up facts to each clue made it seem like they were sitting on the tip of her tongue, and her delivery never made it seem harsh, or condescending. It was a pleasure to watch the child star turned scientist do her thing. I wouldn’t mind seeing her host again.

  1. Ken Jennings

Yes, he is the leader in the clubhouse. And yes, it’s for good reason. He’s a natural as host of the game show he dominated for so long as a contestant. He’s the one with the most knowledge, the most history, the most reverence for the show. And also… he’s good at it. Like, really good. The only reason he shouldn’t host the show would be because he doesn’t want it. I know there will be other hosts throughout the summer (Savannah Guthrie is up next), including Robin Roberts, Joe Buck, and of course the long awaited appearance by Levar Burton. So I’ll wait and see how they do before casting a final vote (I don’t have a vote, but let a brother dream, cool? Cool). Right now, it’s Ken Jennings’ job to lose. And it’s not even close (well, it is. I think Mayim would be great, too).

Continue to rest in peace, Mr. Trebek. The show you hosted for so long is in good hands.

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