There’s always been a fair amount of wordplay in Jeopardy!’s category titles, clues, and answers—writers have to do something to spice up reframing questions about the Founding Fathers for the umpteenth time—but pop culture relevance is a more recent concern. Occasionally, this tapping into the zeitgeist produces cringeworthy results, like that time Alex Trebek “yas, queen”-ed all over our screens in a meme-inspired round. Other times, the clues are very on the nose, and yet still end up being hit or miss. Take last Friday’s “Jeopardy” round, which teased a category about staying woke. If you’ve spent any time on the internet (that is, time spent not interrupting discussions on how black lives matter), you might be familiar with the phrase “stay woke,” which is essentially a call to keep your wits about you even as basic human rights are infringed upon and the world in general is going to shit.
Rather than wade into a discussion on social justice a few words at a time, Jeopardy! writers devoted the entire “Stay Woke” category to sleep issues. The trivia-inclined among viewers continued to cheerfully yell their answers at their laptops and TVs, while others expressed disappointment in the use of a phrase that’s frequently invoked in matters of racial justice in a category about stimulants.
Conversely, there were some folks that didn’t get why anyone would be upset over the underwhelming wokeness of a game show that once “sexed up” its potpourri category by having Trebek sigh and moan between clues, or that regularly invites people who have obviously never heard “Tupac” said aloud.