The 40th season of Jeopardy! premieres tonight, but many fans have already made it clear that they will not be tuning in. The show announced last month that this season will be a lot different than usual—with previously used questions and returning contestants. These changes are an attempt to get around the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike, but Jeopardy!‘s controversial decision to continue filming new episodes at all has led to a boycott.
The WGA strike began on May 2 when the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP)—which represents major studios—failed to reach an agreement. The WGA is seeking better wages, particularly when it comes to residuals from streaming services. And although Jeopardy! employs WGA writers, the show has decided to continue on with recycled material. Read on to find out why viewers are so upset, and when they’ll consider tuning in again.
Season 40 premieres tonight.
It’s now or never 👊 The road to redemption starts TOMORROW on the Season 37 #JeopardySecondChance competition, brought to you by Moderna. pic.twitter.com/uXdH3TkMjZ— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) September 10, 2023
The 40th season of Jeopardy! premieres tonight, Sept. 11, and as previously announced by executive producer Michael Davies, the season will kick off with a Second Chance competition.
While appearing on the official Jeopardy! podcast, Inside Jeopardy!, in August, Davies explained, “I believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek Stage, doing it with non-original material or, as we’ll talk about, a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike.”
The producer continued, “We’re gonna open the season with a Second Chance tournament for players from Season 37 who lost their initial game, and winners from that will advance to a Season 37 and Season 38 Champions Wild Card.”
Because the writers are on strike, Jeopardy! is limited to using clues that were scripted by its WGA writing staff for past seasons.
There’s an issue with the hosts, too.
Jeopardy! has two hosts, actor Mayim Bialik and former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings. In May, Bialik stepped down from hosting in solidarity with the writers. There was only one week left to film of Season 39 before the summer hiatus, and Jennings replaced Bialik for the remaining episodes.
In late August, it was reported by The Messenger that Bialik would not be returning to host the show during the strike and would likely not be back this year, even if the strike ends. The report stated that Bialik was also supporting the SAG-AFTRA union. The actors’ union, of which Bialik is a member, began its own strike on July 14.
Jennings, on the other hand, is continuing to host Jeopardy! He defended his stance on X (formerly known as Twitter) by pointing out that late host Alex Trebek hosted the show during the 2007-2008 WGA strike.
The show is being picketed.
When Season 40 began filming on Aug. 15, writers and former players picketed outside of the studio, the WGA confirmed on X. The U.S. Sun reported that it seemed Jennings entered the studio through a door that allowed him to avoid the picket line.
A WGA member told The U.S. Sun, “It sounded like most of the writers were there. We didn’t get a chance to turn away Ken Jennings because no one saw him drive up. So he either heard there was a picket line and didn’t leave home, or he went another route into the production.”
Fans have shared that they won’t be watching.
Some fans have spoken out online and shared that they will not be watching new Jeopardy! episodes during the strike. Many are calling Jennings a “scab,” a word used for someone who crosses a union picket line.
“FYI @Jeopardy we will not be watching any episodes that try to circumvent the absence of your invaluable #WGA writers,” one viewer posted on X.
Another fan posted, “No way in Hell I’m watching scab Jeopardy. Recycling old questions is offensive. To insult the writers like this is outrageous.”
On Jeopardy!‘s Instagram account, there are a number of similar comments. In response to a post about Celebrity Jeopardy! returning on Sept. 27, someone wrote, “Im conflicted. I love Celebrity Jeopardy but i feel like this goes against the strike.”
Another commenter said, “Ken Jennings more like scab jennings,” while a different fan posted, “Will not watch Jeopardy until the Writers Strike is over.”
Fans have also taken note of Jeopardy! turning off replies on its Instagram and X posts about the new season, meaning followers cannot leave comments.
“No [replies]. Cowards. I won’t be watching the retread show because I will be honoring the writer’s strike,” one person posted with a screenshot.
Another wrote, “Lol not them turning replies off because they know they’re going to get backlash for making new episodes during the strike. As they should.”
Some contestants also refuse to participate.
It isn’t just fans who are sitting out the new season of Jeopardy! Some former contestants have said that they will not participate unless the strike is resolved. In August, five former contestants spoke anonymously to Polygon about being asked to return for Second Chance episodes, and how conflicted they felt about the offer.
“When I got a call gauging my interest in participating, my initial reaction was pure shock, because I’d given up any fantasies about being invited back,” one former contestant said. “But once that initial shock wore off, it was replaced by the dread of having to make an impossible decision.”
Another contestant shared, “It’s honestly souring my opinion of Jeopardy! for putting us in this position, having to choose between supporting the strike and going back on the show that many of us have loved our whole lives.”
Other champions spoke out publicly and said that they wouldn’t participate in the show during the strike. In response to news of the recycled questions, Amy Schneider—who is second only to Jennings in consecutive games won—posted on X in July, “Disappointed to hear that Jeopardy is considering this course of action. For what it’s worth, I, too, will not be participating in any Jeopardy productions that don’t use new clues written by their amazing, unionized writers under a fair, collectively bargained contract.”