Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday/Return of Who Do You Think You Are

     Today I'm thankful one of my favorite shows is returning to television.  Dropped by NBC, the all new, Who Do You Think You Are, produced by Lisa Kudrow, will air at 9 p.m. July 23rd on the former Learning Channel, (TLC).  I say former because these days not much learning is going on, their main offerings seem to be Toddlers and Tiaras, 19 And Counting and Honey Boo Boo.

     However, come July they will have at least one quality show worth watching,  But you know what would make it even better?  Loose the celebrities.  It's not that I have anything against celebrities, but I'm not particularly starstruck, (with the possible exception of Johnny Depp), and I don't think most family historians are either.  I did not watch the old show because I was excited about who might turn up in Reba McIntyre's family tree.  I wanted to see research techniques and the discovery of obscure records, I wanted to see a good genealogical mystery solved. 

     I can't help thinking each of the individuals chosen to participate in the show had the wherewithal to hire a dozen genealogists on their own if they were really interested in their ancestors, and they certainly didn't need the show's sponsors to fly them to their family's homeland.  I for one would find it much more compelling to follow a family historian who struggled with a brick wall for years be interviewed and then watch the show's genealogists work with him or her to find the answers.

     A few months ago I received an e-mail about a similar show being produced in Ireland, inviting people to do just that, write in describing your research and what you'd like to find out about your family, with a view to selecting subjects for the series; which of course I did.  Unfortunately, the film crew will not be showing up on my doorstep anytime soon, but I still like that concept better.

     Having said that, it's still a favorite show, and I will be watching when the new series premiers, or rather watching online the next day since in a fit of annoyance over the crappiness of said shows like Toddlers and Tiaras, I cancelled my cable subscription.



  1. I absolutely cannot wait for the return of this show. Some of the things that they researched and found have made me think and then go check out some possibilities in my own family. That is what is strong about this type of programming.

    But, I do have to say that I disagree with you about their use of celebrity. No, I too do not watch the program for that reason, BUT, I do think celebrity is what draws the average viewer in. And, I think that is the sole purpose of the programming. To draw peoples attention to the hobby and profession of genealogy and family history.

    Think about it, the more folks are drawn to genealogy, the more folks become interested and hooked on the hobby / profession the more DEMAND there will be for access to and digitization. That is a WIN / WIN proposition. The average person hooked! And, more access and the more digitization of records for ALL online.

    Yes, I / we are all human and we'd love if OUR stories could be featured, but our name and likeness would not draw the viewers in. And, I'd argue that while celebrity is feature and the draw for viewers, it turns out more oft then not thier stories ARE of the AVERAGE Joe / Josephine.

    Just my 2 cents.

  2. Hi Tracy, thanks for commenting. I do understand why they chose celebrities for the show, but it doesn't seem to have attracted viewers since NBC dropped it. I'm curious to see how the non-celebrity show does. My point was, I'd love to see people who are truly interested in genealogy get a little help.