Suddenly, Genealogy is… Cool?Posted by Administrator on April 8th, 2010
It used to be that family history research was the domain of sweet, little old ladies in dusty microfiche libraries. Then came shows like PBS’s American Experience and National Geographic’s Human Family Tree that made family history work high drama, high-tech, and, even, dare I say it, sexy. The newest show to draw on genealogy for entertainment and maybe enlightenment is NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, a reality-style series that delves into the family history of celebrities like Emmit Smith, Susan Sarandon, and Spike Lee.
The show concept has me wondering: when did this happen? Were we just tired of reality shows packed with badly behaved contestants in outlandish, as-far-from-reality-as-possible scenarios designed to bring out their worst natures? Is there some greater influence at work stoking our interest in our pasts? When did genealogy become sexy?
Not that this is a bad thing. Not at all. In fact, such interest in real stories and real people can only result in good things. I mean, I would rather have my kids watch this show any day than Desperate Housewives or Jersey Shore. I’d rather have them watch this show than the news- at least this show can stoke their interest in the lessons of the past, instead of getting them swept up in the sensation of the week, day, or moment.
Good for NBC for having the guts to produce this type of material. Hopefully, we will see more like it. Also on the docket of celebrities is Lisa Kudrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Matthew Broderick. I’ll tell you what I think after I watch the first episode.