‘Jeopardy!’: Mayim Bialik on How COVID Made National College Championship ‘Difficult’

by Liz Holland
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“Jeopardy!” premieres its National College Championship tonight. Host Mayim Bialik shared how COVID made the game even more challenging.

The two week primetime event definitely has some noticeable differences from the weeknight “Jeopardy!” we know and love. However, Bialik shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the general process of filming is similar enough. The biggest difference, she says, was that she had a chance to get to know contestants a little better than she typically does. That being said, COVID still created some typical challenges when it came to contestant socializing and interacting with each other. 

“Technically speaking, it’s pretty much the same format,” Bialik shared with EW. “But for those [contestants] that advanced, I got to know them a little bit more, which was cool. I think their energy, for lack of a better word, is just different.”

According to the championship host, the youthful contestants made her feel extra special. “I always have a good time [on the show], but it was really special to be able to interact with them on breaks. I think one day we had to wait for something technical, and we did a little Q&A, where I let them ask me questions. It kind of felt like being at summer camp.”

Mayim Bialik Compared ‘Jeopardy!’ Contestants to Her Own Teens

The interim host continued, “I mean, obviously, because of COVID, interaction was still a little bit difficult, but their camaraderie with each other is very different than we see in our adult contestants, as it were.” For Bialik, watching the college students hang out with each other reminded her of her own family. “It’s not that our adult contestants don’t have good camaraderie, but there’s something really sweet about young people hanging out together while having this competition that felt different,” she clarified. “I got to see them socializing the way my teenagers do.

Bialik faced some interesting drama last year when she was asked to step in to host “Jeopardy!” primetime specials and spinoffs. Mike Richards previously took on the gig after Alex Trebek passed away. However, Richards stepped down after allegations of his inappropriate behavior towards women resurfaced. 

More Than Happy to Be Here

Now that the actress has settled into her hosting duties and some time has passed since the public’s initial reaction, she says she’s thankful that for the most part she was “blissfully ignorant.”

“I don’t really have any new insights. I will say that at the time I was kind of blissfully ignorant, and for the most part have kind of remained so,” Bialik said. She later added,  “And I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, and I think that’s just kind of how it is being a human. I think that, like I said, I’m mostly eager to let people sort of focus on all the incredible things that happen on ‘Jeopardy!’, Amy Schneider being one of those examples of late.”

Outsider.com