UPDATE: Who Do You Think You Are has been CANCELED by NBC. To date, another network has not picked it up. Sadly, we have lost one of the best history-themed shows on television.
NBC’s hit show Who Do You Think You Are? is “reality TV” at its finest!
It joins the ranks of Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and American Restoration for quality historical programming that is not classified as a documentary.
The show begins with a quick biography of the celebrity, who often visits with family members to find out what they know about the most recent branches of the family tree. The star then travels to a library, archive or museum to get started on the journey of a lifetime.
The celebrities usually begin with a search of Ancestry.com, a major sponsor of the show. They have also used Chronicling America, the digital newspaper project sponsored by the Library of Congress. As clues unfold, they travel across the country and sometimes overseas to learn more about the history of their family.
The show, currently in its third season, has profiled Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Reba McIntyre, Rashida Jones, Edie Falco, Jerome Bettis, Blair Underwood, Helen Hunt, and many others. Their stories have led them to the African slave trade, the Holocaust, the American Revolution, and every place in between. Secret lives, mysterious deaths, and family legends are unraveled in each one-hour show.
One of the best parts of Who Do You Think You Are? is its authenticity. Real librarians, archivists, historians, and experts research information for the celebrities. They don’t have a “host” who claims to have found everything himself. The people who pull similar information for less famous folks every day actually get credit for the work they do.
Although the celebrities are likely pre-screened for “TV worthy” skeletons in their family closets, the truth is, everyone has something fascinating to discover as you research your own family history. Finding out where you came from can provide an important context for your own life. It can also help you understand how your ancestors fit into the landscape of American and world history.
Episodes from the current season are available in their entirety at the show’s website: http://www.nbc.com/who-do-you-think-you-are/episode-guide/. Limited clips from past seasons are also available.
If you want to get excited about the treasure trove of stories that might exist in your own family tree, check out Who Do You Think You Are? It makes genealogy engaging – and trendy!
The author was not compensated by anyone to write this review. She watches this show on her own during her free time.