There were a few things I debated choosing for this feature this week. This Is Us featured a powerful moment for Kate, as she confronted the man who abused her as a teenager and spoke to the pain many women carry with them for years after damaging relationships. The Rookie set the tone for its new season with a few strong speeches about accountability, privilege, and the need for change in policing that made me feel hopeful about the direction the show is going to take. And of course, my beloved Buffalo Bills pulled off another victory on national TV yesterday.
But I couldn’t talk about TV this week without talking about the moment that moved me the most—Alex Trebek’s final episode of Jeopardy!, which aired on Friday.
I grew up with Jeopardy!, and Trebek’s voice is probably more familiar to me than the voice of some family members. Playing along with Jeopardy! is a daily pastime in my house, and my whole extended family gets involved when we get together for birthdays or dinners at my grandmother’s house. Jeopardy! was even a topic of conversation at my cousin’s wedding, with my relatives debating whether or not James Holzhauer was good or bad for the game. (For the record, I am a huge fan of Jeopardy James and genuinely hoped I’d see him on my trips to Las Vegas over the last couple of years.)
Alex Trebek felt like family in the way only a long-running TV personality can feel. Whether he was asking contestants about their strange hobbies or teaching me new facts about geography and opera or even showing up in Disney World on Ellen’s Energy Adventure (to remind us that brain power is the one source of power that will never run out), he was a constant in my life as I grew from a kid who had no idea what was going on to an adult who has been known to dance around the kitchen after running a category and dreams of making it onto the show herself one day. And even as he battled cancer, he was still a presence in my home and the homes of so many fans—we grew even more attached to him because he let us see his vulnerability, which in turn allowed us to see his strength and determination.
There have been many celebrity deaths that have cut deep, but there’s something about Trebek’s that feels different—more personal. Maybe it’s because he felt like a daily dinner guest; maybe it’s because his gentle demeanor was often a balm for the soul after watching the news that would air before Jeopardy! So many of us who grew up with Jeopardy! don’t know a world without Trebek; he was our longest-tenured teacher.
A legend like Trebek deserves as many tributes as possible, and the one Jeopardy! prepared for him on Friday night was a lovely look back at his career—his hairstyles, his funny moments, his family, and his genuine love for his job. He was a man who guided us through a game that taught us many things, and in his final months, he also taught us a lot about facing your own mortality with grace and honesty.
Television won’t be the same without him, but it’s more than that. Dinnertime at my house—and the houses of so many people I know—won’t be the same without him.
That’s quite a legacy to leave behind.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?