Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are, Season 2 Episode 1

(Apologies for how disjointed this review is, I'm still trying to get the hang of it and this is the first time I've watched the US version of the show.)

Celebrity: Vanessa Williams
Aired: 4 February 2011 Presence: Two commercials, one sponsor mention, one mention during the actual show, and the 'Genealogist,' (I assume she's from ProGenealogists though I don't know.) who made an appearance.

I think that one of the main things someone has to acknowledge who is inspired to research their own family history after watching this show is that the producers aren't going to pick a celebrity's ancestral line where they were farmers their whole life and didn't even get an obituary, let alone one that mentions the wife's maiden name AND her parents. However, in order for it to be a television show, they need to showcase what can be found when researching your family's history even if results shown may not be typical.


  • It will bring more people into genealogy and discovering their family history. 
  • It's a genealogy show. After so many reality shows taking up programming space, having one I'm actually interested in is great!
  • It's an hour of light entertainment. My sense of humor tends toward mocking it, but as my point above states, it's a genealogy tv show so it would have to try pretty hard for me to hate it. Plus, having an archivist appear on television might help more people understand what job I'm going for.
  • I will admit I haven't done a lot of African-American family history research so this episode was particularly interesting to watch and learn about the sacrifices her ancestors made. 
  • I LOVE it when people find pictures of their ancestors. 


  • Cringeworthy Moments: I visibly cringed when the researcher at the National Archives just gleefully told Williams to touch the documents. I also cringed when I saw Williams using what looked to me an ink pen as a pointer and dragging it across whatever she was looking at. That is a bad habit even if they were copies. 
  • Production Value: I found the editing to be less than expected. Overall it seems to lack something the UK version has, but I can't put my finger on what exactly it is missing.
  • Music: I didn't think it the best intro music at the beginning (the UK music is superior in my opinion), and I found myself getting more annoyed at it than I would have because they played a portion of it after every single commercial break.
In the End: 

As a person who decided to become an archivist after rediscovering her love of history and genealogy, I can't deny that this show has the potential to bring more patrons to use archive services. I'll certainly keep watching the show. I realize that sounds like faint praise, but it isn't. Give me some time to watch more episodes and I'll be able to elaborate a bit more on what I like or don't like.

Rating: 3 out of 5
(It's not bad, but it hasn't totally impressed me into loving the show yet.)

Things I'd Like to Reiterate:

  • PENCILS!!!!! Please refrain from using ink pens in an archives. Please?
  • Care should be taken when handling or touching archival documents. If gloves are around, put those on.

Next Week: Tim McGraw

Sidenote: I totally recognize the Kim Cattrall episode as one that has already aired in the UK. I liked that episode so it will be interesting to see how much of it is the same. (I wish they kept the UK theme music...) If they're going to show some of the other WDYTYA episodes, I'd really like them to show Jerry Springer's episode as well. I teared up watching his when I don't even cry over my own family history. Also, NBC, please show Stephen Fry's episode based on the fact that I think Stephen Fry is awesome. It will be quite interesting if Ancestry starts a WDYTYA fair like they have in the UK.

If I can, I want to get the DVD of Faces of America that was shown on PBS last year to see how it compares.

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