Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Two Cents on "Who Do You Think You Are"...and then I'm done

I've noticed a barrage of posts on the new NBS genealogy show, which premiered last night, and all are very interesting. I've read some outright negative posts and some fairly accepting ones too and I can understand the reasons behind both of those opinions.

One thing about the show that I noticed immediately, but that doesn't seem to be getting much notice in the posts, is that WDYTYA has the celebrities (because again, the TV execs probably don't think regular people are exciting enough to draw in viewers) involved in discovering their ancestors...ok, that may be pushing it a little too far. The celebrities don't actually do the work; just like with PBS' "Faces of America" the work has been compiled by genealogists. But the celebrities have to go around to the sites of their ancestors and, shall we say, collect the information from those who have done the work. Not so with "Faces of America" where they just sit at a table listening to the host rattle off whatever information he deems pertinent and exciting enough to catch both the celebrity's attention, as well as that of the viewers. So that was one thing that I did like about WDYTYA. I think it's great to show them getting involved, at least in the small way that they are.

Like everyone else, I think it would be great to show more of the methodology-how did they find all of the generational names? But to be realistic, we have to keep in mind that these shows are not necessarily geared towards the thousands of professional genealogists. It's a show made for the masses, the hundreds of thousands, even the millions of people here who engage in genealogy as a hobby, as well as those who may or may not have thought about their ancestry prior to seeing "Carrie Bradshaw" on the trail of her family history. Keeping in mind their focus, I can say that I like this program better than the PBS version just because I think it's important to show people on the trail themselves rather than being disjointed and just read information off of a page. I think it shows genealogy in a positive way. I think by taking the descendant to the sites that were important to their ancestors, it explains the excitement genealogists feel when that stone has been uncovered; you know, that glazed-over look that your friends and family give you when you're trying to share your excitment at a find gets replaced by excitement when TV and movie stars (for all intensive purposes, "cultural icons") are doing the same thing. So overall, I like it.

....and now we can all move on to other topics :)

1 comment:

  1. Great review of WDYTYA - I believe in the BBC version, the last 10 minutes of the show was spent actually breaking down the research process in a "how to" fashion. Instead NBC urges viewers to go to their website and basically they get a search ad for