‘Jeopardy!’ apologizes for ‘shameful’ clue after fans demand they ‘do better’

Ticked-off “Jeopardy!” fans have spoken — and they want the iconic game show to “do better” after a clue was declared “shameful,” “misogynistic” and just downright medically “inaccurate.”

The long-running game show used its official Twitter account to apologize Tuesday after complaints poured in from viewers regarding a medical disorder that was referred to as “Grinch syndrome,” a term considered highly offensive by those in the autonomic nervous system disorder community.

“Yesterday’s program included a clue about postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS),” the show’s social media mea culpa read. “After hearing from the community, we found we used an outdated and inaccurate term for this disorder, and we apologize.”

Guest host Savannah Guthrie read the controversial clue on Monday’s episode: “Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is also known as Grinch syndrome because this organ is too small.” The correct answer was the heart — however, “in most patients with POTS, the structure of the heart itself is normal,” according Johns Hopkins Medicine.

The online backlash was swift and blunt.

On Monday, June 21, the venerable quiz show featured a clue about the medical condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which affects a person's blood flow.
On Monday, June 21, the venerable quiz show “Jeopardy!” featured an offensive clue about the medical condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which affects a person’s blood flow.

Dysautonomia International — a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of autonomic nervous system disorders — slammed the phrase “Grinch syndrome” as egregiously “outdated” and “misogynistic.” 

“Hey @Jeopardy no one with any credibility calls POTS ‘Grinch Syndrome,’ “ reps for the organizations said in their first response to the offensive “Jeopardy!” clue. “Promoting outdated misogynistic terms to describe a debilitating autonomic nervous system disorder that impacts millions of Americans is not cool. We request an apology on behalf of our community. Do better.”

Dysautonomia International’s official Twitter account followed up with, “Can you imagine Jeopardy making light of cancer or MS patients with a ‘funny’ name for their debilitating health condition? Not acceptable. We’d love to see real questions about the autonomic nervous system.”

One outraged fan tweeted in response: “The extent of my disappointment in one of my favorite shows is indescribable. This is not true on top of just being cruel. My offspring doesn’t have a ‘Grinch’ heart. Do better @Jeopardy.”

Outspoken former child star Mara Wilson, of “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” fame, also hopped into the online fracas.

“It’s also just not true! It was based on one doctor’s contentious theory proposed more than ten years ago,” said Wilson, 33. “There’s no scientific consensus. Disappointed to see @Jeopardy spreading medical misinformation.

“Thinking back to all the EKGs, ECGs, stress tests, and heart monitors I’ve had over the years, all of which have shown my heart to be totally normal, while my autonomic nervous system remains a mess.”

Author Lillie Lainoff, a disability rights activist and founder of Disabled Kidlt Writers on Facebook, thanked “Jeopardy!” for its public apology — but pointed out that there is still no explanation for how this misinformation made it on air.

“It’s a term almost everyone with POTS hasn’t even heard of. If there were more disabled and chronically-ill people working for you, this wouldn’t have happened,” Lainoff said. “How are you going to make sure this doesn’t happen again? How are you going to make this right? Most Americans don’t know what POTS is. This will be the first time they’ve heard of it. They are going to think the clue is accurate because of the show’s credibility.”

Reps for “Jeopardy!” did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.


New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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