Some 50-plus years in, Jeopardy’s cultural impact seems definitive. The iconic game show has fans of all sorts: Drake listeners, scholars of classic cinema, local-pub-trivia diehards. It can turn “a software engineer from Salt Lake City” into author/TV personality/quizmaster Ken Jennings or “a bartender from New York” into your parents’ favorite contestant in recent memory.
But not all of the legendary quiz show’s champions enjoy universal adoration, and new documentary Who Is Arthur Chu?—debuting on PBS’ America ReFramed this Tuesday, May 22, and available via VOD on June 12 across platforms (including iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon)—looks at this oddly controversial contestant’s first year after becoming an 11-time Jeopardy champion in 2014. If you recognize the name today, it’s likely you’re a Jeopardy diehard with some sort of feeling about Chu’s unusual “Forrest Bounce” strategy, which essentially eschewed going top-down on categories in favor of hunting out Daily Doubles in order to limit an opponent’s big-play ability. The approach seemed to anger the game’s purists and make Chu divisive to the show’s fan community, but that’s a subject destined to be the starting point for some other film.
Who Is Arthur Chu? instead stumbles into a more interesting reality. Post-Jeopardy, Chu had no interest in resting on his new reputation and embracing the trivia lifestyle—rather, he decided to capitalize on his newfound fame and following by using it to fight back against online trolling and hate campaigns in the era of GamerGate and incels. Filmmakers Yu Gu and Scott Drucker, therefore, don’t end up with a behind-the-scenes look at Trebek’s temple; Who Is Arthur Chu? goes on to ask questions that are too complex for even Final Jeopardy.