I had to watch it, since my genealogical organizations, websites, and contacts kept bringing it to my attention: NBC's new genealogy show, Who Do You Think You Are? My reactions? Mixed.
Each week, apparently, the show will present an investigation into the family history of one person. Supposedly these are famous people; I haven't heard of any of them, but that helps me concentrate on the data, which I find more interesting anyway.
As I watched, I tried not to take the jaundiced position of expert amongst novices. Not that I'm an expert in genealogy by any means, but I do know a whole lot more than I did when I began nearly eight years ago, and had to make a point of remembering those initial days of knowing nothing and being amazed by everything. Not that making new discoveries ever gets routine. But I would be very dull on a show like that, since I react to such revelations with "that's interesting," or maybe "that's really cool," but do not keep repeating, in an overly loud and dramatic voice, "Oh my God!" and "That's un-be-LEEV-able!"
The hyper-dramatic approach was not limited to the featured guest, but part and parcel of the show, and that did drive me nuts, even more so than the constant commercial breaks, which at least provided an opportunity to get the dishes done. There is about 15 minutes of really excellent material in the show, and if they hadn't stretched it out to an hour, it would have been great. It was fun to follow the research that led to the 49-er ancestor in California, and the accused witch in Massachusetts. Enough fun that I may watch the next episode, but now that I know you can watch it on Hulu, I won't feel obligated to plan my life around 8 p.m. on Fridays.
On a personal note, the best part was seeing my Boston home-away-from-home, Li'l Writer Guy's sanctum sanctorum, the sixth floor reading room of the New England Historic Genealogical Society's library.Recently I let my Ancestry.com membership lapse, on the grounds that they had doubled the cost. It's a wonderful resource, but I couldn't let such an increase go unprotested, and was in a period of life when I couldn't use it effectively, anyway. The membership had been costing me $150/year, which I had decided was worthwhile to keep the service available no matter how much or how little I used it. I've not yet decided that it's worth $300, but have been hoping Ancestry will have a special membership sale sometime when I can rejoin. The question now hangs in the air: Will Who Do You Think You Are? encourage Ancestry to offer such a sale? Or will it inspire a flood of new demand that will keep the price high?