2020 dealt us another blow this morning with the death of beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek at age 80 from pancreatic cancer. We all watched the last two years as he fought his struggle with grace and kept on hosting the iconic game show for which he is so well known. Trebek’s fight was inspiring and he will be so, so missed.
Alex Trebek and Jeopardy! hold a special place in American culture: He and his show are one of the few things baby boomers, Gen Xers, Xennials, Millenials, and today’s teens all have in common, know about, and enjoy.
I know very few people who haven’t watched at least a few games of Jeopardy! together with their families. If you’re like many of us, you watched it with your family on a regular basis. The quiz show and its matter-of-fact, friendly host were a staple of my childhood and something my entire family enjoyed, from my grandparents down to little old me. We still like to watch it together when we get the chance!
Alex Trebek brought us together for 30 minutes every weeknight.
Thanks to Alex, families took time to sit together and learn together. He stumped us, he made us feel like a genius when we knew the answer, and he always made sure we answered in the form of a question. His light banter with contestants after a commercial break, where I could get glimpses of his personality, was something I always looked forward to.
Another thing I looked forward to was when SNL would do a Jeopardy! spoof. I wonder what Alex thought of Will Ferrell’s impression? I loved it, but no matter what, if you’ve been parodied on SNL, you KNOW you’re an American (or Canadian-American as the case may be!) icon.
Now, that gentle genius who united friends and families five nights a week is gone, and I feel like one more piece of my childhood is gone with him.
Jeopardy! will live on, I’m sure—it’s fantastic! But I don’t envy the host who has to try and fill the shoes that such a beloved man has filled since 1984 (when I was just seven!). I’m glad we can still stream old episodes and see Alex show us and the contestants how it’s done (fun fact, I love watching Jeopardy! when I’m on the treadmill). Watching old episodes can take us through the best of Alex’s fashion looks and hairstyles (you know the perm is your FAVE!) and also just remind us of a time when life was a bit slower and we all had time to sit together for a whole hot 30 together to learn and laugh.
Missing Alex Trebek is, in a very real way, missing a more carefree time of my life.
Final Jeopardy!: Who is “a job well done, personified”?
Thank you, sir . . . well done.