‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Detailed Why It Was ‘Mildly Depressing’ to Film Show in 2020

by John Jamison

2020 was a life-altering year on a global scale. Most industries were forced to undergo major changes, and they had to find new approaches to the ways they create products. The television industry was no exception, and even game shows like “Wheel of Fortune” took a hit.

But people also turned to television in greater numbers than ever as a way of coping with the realities of a pandemic. And “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak felt an obligation to continue providing new content for his audience. Though, he admits that things aren’t exactly the same.

“I would lie to you if I wouldn’t say it’s mildly depressing for us backstage, because you’ve got people running around in masks and hazmat outfits,” Pat Sajak told Entertainment Weekly in January. “And human contact isn’t there, and there’s no audience, so it’s a different atmosphere.”

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Trying to Give Feeling of Normalcy

Despite how different the on-set atmosphere may feel, Pat Sajak and the “Wheel of Fortune” crew have been trying their best to maintain a sense of normalcy for the audience.

“Our job is not to let that translate on the air,” Sajak said. “We try our best in the way we shoot the show and what we do here to make it as normal as possible, so that people can forget about it. We never talk about it, we just go about our business, and whatever our politicians are dictating, we do it. But we try not to let it spill over into the show.”

Sajak touched on the fact that scripted and other television content can’t tape in the same way as game shows like “Wheel of Fortune.” The relative ease of filming gaming shows means that the networks have relied on them for programming. This puts an even greater weight on the show. But it also allows them to experiment with new things like “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.”

In January, the first-ever celebrity episode of the long-running game show premiered. It featured names like Leslie Jones, Tony Hawk, and Drew Carey. They took a page out of the “Jeopardy!” playbook with the move, and we may get to see more of it in the future.