Celebrity Genealogy on TV: a good thing?

Season three of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are premieres next week on Friday February 3rd. The first show is about Martin Sheen. The fourth season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. premieres March 25th on PBS.

I’m ambivalent about TV shows of this sort. On the one hand, they don’t tell enough about how to do genealogy; a celebrity’s genealogy is no more important or interesting than any one else’s; and viewers are liable to think genealogy only matters if you’re a celebrity.  So these shows turn me off. On the other, they do provide occasional insights like Rosie O’Donnell’s visit to a Poor House in Ireland, and if a show interests someone in genealogy that’s good.

We’ve used this blog/website mostly for announcements, but it does have a “Comment” feature which is available whether you’re reading this in email or on the web. Is celebrity genealogy on TV a good thing? Please feel free to offer your opinion on this topic (with polite replies if someone disagrees — the whole world is listening).

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4 Responses to Celebrity Genealogy on TV: a good thing?

  1. Joan Allen says:

    Depending on the celebrity, I find the episodes rather interesting. I am impressed by seeing some of the libraries and other repositories around the world. Oh, that we could travel so comfortably with all accommodations taken care of. They make the whole process seem sooo easy!

  2. Mike Carroll says:

    “sooo easy!”…Yes, I think I read somewhere they explore all ancestral lines for a celeb, and then only use the one they find good sources for, for the TV show. Somehow I don’t mind this — people will find out soon enough it’s harder.

  3. Joan E. says:

    I tend to agree with Joan Allen–I find some of the celebrities have interesting ancestors. Of course, I am envious of their being able to reach the best professional researchers in each of the depositories! I enjoy watching these shows even if I don’t learn anything new about genealogy. Am always interested in other peoples ancestry.

  4. Karen Haider says:

    I don’t like that the shows make it seem so EASY to do the research. But it has been interesting to see various parts of the world. It’s almost like short history lessons.

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