Watching Alex Trebek’s Final ‘Jeopardy!’ as America Crumbles

Watching Alex Trebek’s Last ‘Jeopardy!’ as America Crumbles

On Friday night, the final episode of Jeopardy! hosted by Alex Trebek airs. His remaining time might be his 8,260th flip as quizmaster, a job he’s taken from a TV gig to considerably of a calling since his first outing in 1984. Earlier than his demise Nov. Eight at age 80 after a battle with pancreatic most cancers, he spent 37 seasons as America’s favourite host and, by nature of the sport present he was emceeing, its most trusted determine.

In keeping with Jeopardy! govt producer Mike Richards, Trebek didn’t know that the taping of Friday’s episode could be his final. It was filmed 10 days earlier than his demise. The episode, then, will really feel like an everyday episode of the present as followers have identified it 8,259 occasions earlier than. As such, it can finish the way in which it at all times has, with Trebek turning to the digicam and saying “see you next time.” Simply so that you’re emotionally ready…

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A lot has been made currently about how exceptional it’s for an individual and present to not solely get pleasure from that lengthy of a run and stay so beloved, but additionally for it to develop into, arguably, extra standard than it’s ever been lately.

A few of that was owed to rule adjustments that allowed for astounding runs of record-breaking win totals from a handful of contestants that garnered the type of fan thrills and captive consideration reserved for an NBA group on a postseason run. A part of it was as a result of devastating information that there wasn’t a lot time left with Trebek. However a variety of it was the results of the world we stay in now, and its opposition to the world that Jeopardy! represented.

At a time when “misinformation” and scandal rule every little thing—the information, primetime, our collective consciousness—right here was a collection about details and stability. It was about certainty, and there was a consolation in that, particularly in unsure occasions. That may sound cutesy, however I promise you it’s been profound. Till I watched Trebek’s remaining episodes this week, I’m unsure it had struck me simply how a lot so.

On Monday, the beginning of one of the crucial deeply upsetting information weeks in my lifetime—the pandemic persevering with to escalate its tragic demise tolls and the violent riot on the Capitol, two of the extra shameful, darkest occasions on this nation’s historical past—Trebek opened with a uncommon handle to the viewers.

He referred to as for a “gentler, kinder society,” one which he knew we might construct collectively if “we all just pitch in a little bit.” I’ve included many of the speech beneath, as a result of it’s putting to me that he had the divine knowledge to make it the second he did, simply earlier than he handed, and airing when we have to hear it probably the most:

You recall that a couple of month in the past, I requested you to take a second to present thanks for all the blessings that you just get pleasure from in your lives. Now, as we speak a distinct type of message. That is the season of giving. I do know you wish to be beneficiant with your loved ones, your folks, your family members. However as we speak, I’d such as you to go one step additional. I’d such as you to open up your arms and open up your coronary heart to those that are nonetheless struggling due to COVID-19—people who find themselves struggling by no fault of their very own. We’re making an attempt to construct a gentler, kinder society, and if all of us pitch in just a bit bit, we’re going to get there.

That speech issues to me as a result of it’s a testomony to only how a lot Trebek knew that his legacy isn’t simply as a tv persona.

He felt a duty for upholding the values of a whole world he helped construct; the place fact is unimpeachable, seriousness will be enjoyable and foolish, and, even in a recreation of intelligence, there was no such factor as elitism or ego. We had been all invited into this world of consolation, of security, of enjoyment, and, as he stated in that message, of kindness. If folks had been going to look as much as Trebek for knowledge and kindness, he was going to make use of the platform to ensure we take care of one another.

I noticed this week that I’ve been watching him host this present my whole life. It’s fairly potential that’s actually true.

My dad and mom had been followers, and preferred to maintain it on after the information. I’d watch with my grandparents as a child. I’ve spoken about this earlier than however, in New York, Jeopardy! airs on two completely different stations: one at 7 pm and one at 7:30 pm. My grandmother used to observe at 7 on one channel, after which once more with my grandfather at 7:30 on one other, gorgeous him by figuring out all of the solutions. My brother and I’d snort hysterically.

It was on whereas I did homework earlier than dinner. It was on after I got here residence for visits from school. It was on as I cooked dinner in my very own condominium. On this final 12 months of the pandemic, it was considerably of a solace: after years of hustle and exhaustion within the metropolis, there was now cause to cease and have a routine. We had been confused concerning the world round us, however each night time at 7, we ate dinner and watched Jeopardy!

On Wednesday, like everybody, I used to be glued to the TV, mouth agape at what I used to be watching occur on the Capitol. It felt faraway from the truth that I had as soon as identified. There’s not a lot to say about it: I used to be shocked, embarrassed, livid, devastated. Weren’t all of us?

Then at 7 pm, after I wanted to interrupt for dinner and couldn’t take watching what was occurring anymore, I turned on ABC. There, even on that horrible day, was Trebek internet hosting Jeopardy! It sounds so hokey to speak about how a lot consolation there was in with the ability to depend on that, on him and that world being there. The soundness meant one thing. It means one thing. It at all times will.

It sounds so hokey to talk about how much comfort there was in being able to count on that, on him and that world being there. The stability meant something. It means something. It always will.

This 12 months has been onerous. It’s been onerous to be troubled, indignant, scared, and enthusiastic about demise on a regular basis. My sanity has unraveled. My private life has exploded. On Wednesday night time, apparently not that lengthy after that episode of Jeopardy! aired, my grandfather, who I discussed earlier, handed away, a couple of 12 months and a half after my grandmother. As I write this, my household is presently grappling with the best way to mourn him whereas all aside in a pandemic.

I’m used to being a really emotional individual. I cry when folks I really like are damage or upset. I cry at films. I solely half-joke that I as soon as cried at a very poignant rest room paper industrial. However I used to even be completely satisfied loads. I used to only really feel issues. What I hate about this 12 months is that it has turned me into a tragic individual. I’m now not “emotional.” I’m simply unhappy, on a regular basis.

I don’t like this about myself now, and I’m not sufficient of a narcissist to assume I’m alone. I can also’t be alone in realizing this isn’t a “I’m here if you need to talk” feeling, one that may be lifted up by a “sending good vibes” platitude. There are too many individuals shedding who they’re, what they believed in, or what made them vivid due to the incessant nature of the world’s bleakness.

There are unending lure doorways opening beneath us, plummeting us to a brand new all-time low. How is an individual alleged to be an individual—an excellent and hopeful individual—after they can’t even belief that the ground is the ground?

It’s loads to place “the only semblance left of normalcy, truth, and good” on the again of a syndicated recreation present and its beloved host. However we’re already seeing the methods by which nothing would be the identical once more. It doesn’t should be stated that it’s true of the world we stay in, weathering a pandemic and dealing with probably the most grotesque affront to democracy in my lifetime. But it surely’s additionally true of that one little factor that was good, that was steady. Of evenings spent with Trebek and Jeopardy!

It’s painful to really feel such as you’re shedding your grip on that: on stability, certainty, or sanity, as you watch the insanity of the world escalate round you. Whenever you lose the factor you had been holding onto, even simply symbolically and even for those who didn’t know you had been, it makes you are feeling such as you’re in free fall.

Will Jeopardy! be the identical with a brand new host? I’d argue there isn’t a means. And that’s what makes me unhappy.

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