Jeopardy! viewers are expressing their disappointment with the show after a recent clue was construed by many fans as offensive, inaccurate, outdated and “misogynistic”.
On Monday night’s episode, guest host Savannah Guthrie shared with contestants a clue that referenced Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) during the Plain-Named Maladies category, in which the condition was referred to as “Grinch Syndrome”.
POTS affects the blood flow and is frequently triggered when a person stands up, with common side effects including lightheadedness, fainting, and rapid heart rate. The condition most commonly affects women between the ages of 15 to 50, with the Cleveland Clinic estimating that one to three million people suffer from POTS in the United States.
However, the clue, which read: “Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is also known as Grinch Syndrome because this organ is too small,” prompted criticism among viewers, who accused the game show of being both insensitive and incorrect with the reference, as the disorder of the autonomic nervous system is not caused by an abnormally small heart.
“@Jeopardy POTS is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people, many of whom go years without a diagnosis and are told it’s ‘all in your head.’ The condition has nothing to do with the size of one’s heart. ‘Grinch Syndrome’ is an unacceptable, outdated term. Do better. #POTS,” one person tweeted.
Another said: “Not cool @Jeopardy. Not once have I referred to this syndrome as the Grinch Syndrome. Thanks for bringing inaccurate awareness to something I struggle with. Please never call this the Grinch Syndrome ever again.”
“The extent of my disappointment in one of my favourite shows is indescribable. This is not true on top of just being cruel. My offspring doesn’t have a ‘Grinch’ heart. Do better @Jeopardy,” someone else tweeted.
Another person who suffers from POTS sarcastically pointed out that they are “certain” their cardiologist would have mentioned if their heart was too small during their ultrasound if that was the case, while Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that “in most patients with POTS, the structure of the heart itself is normal”.
The clue also prompted a response from the Twitter account for Dysautonomia International, a non-profit organisation that raises awareness of autonomic nervous system disorders through research, physician education and patient empowerment programs, which explained in a series of tweets directed at the show that “no one with credibility” refers to POTS as “Grinch Syndrome,” before describing the term as “outdated” and “misogynistic”.
“Hey @Jeopardy no one with any credibility calls POTS ‘Grinch Syndrome.’ 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,” the organisation tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, the non-profit added that the term was “offensive,” before stating that the clue was comparable to if the game show had made light of “cancer or MS patients with a ‘funny’ name for their debilitating health condition”.
Past studies on POTS previously saw some researchers refer to the condition as “Grinch Syndrome,” however, the term does not frequently appear in medical literature published after 2011.
The Independent has contacted Jeopardy! for comment.