Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Two Cents - Complain, complain, complain

And complain some more.  I've been stunned by posts and comments I've seen regarding "Who Do You Think You Are?" and even, more recently, for "Finding Your Roots".   Everyone certainly has the right to voice their opinions and to complain a bit.  We all do it at some point in our lives, but I guess I'm a bit disappointed in the actual complaints.  They don't make sense to me at all (am I complaining...sure...I suppose I am).  The complaining has been going on for quite some time.  It hasn't been all at once, but it was a recent complaint that made me say to myself that it's time for my two cents, so here goes (and I'll be brief).

The first, and most frequent, complaint that I noticed was that only celebrities are on the shows.  Well, to be blunt, I don't think NBC's ratings would be quite so good if they advertised, "Next time on WDYTYA?, the family tree of Cheryl Cayemberg..."  I just don't think it would have the audience pull.  Now, that's not to say our genealogies aren't interesting.  Of course, they are, but honestly if we want to continue to see this show broadcast, NBC needs to worry about ratings.  I do think that it would be quite a good idea if NBC held a WDYTYA? contest and the winner got to be one of the people they did a show on.  Would it work for every show?  Most likely not.  We're drawn to celebrities, but I do think that it could showcase that everyone's genealogy is interesting.

Another comment that drew my attention was that it should showcase the skills and techniques used to get the research done.  Even to show how much research costs.  Well, what a way to scare the living daylights out of a newcomer!  I know we'd all like to sharpen our skills, but this is why we join genealogy societies, go to webinars, take classes, etc.  Sure I'd like to see just a little more explanation as to a couple of techniques used, but honestly it can't go too in depth or you'll lose your audience.

I'm not saying that these shows can't improve.  Everything can do with a little sprucing up as time goes by, but right now I think they're on the right track.  I can't speak for "Finding Your Roots" since it hasn't aired yet, but I think WDYTYA? has been doing a pretty great job.  I'd like to see more episodes in a season, but I'll take what I can get, and you know what...these shows aren't just for those of us that are already into genealogy.  They're for the newbies too.  They're there to draw more people in to genealogy.  To increase interest.

My husband hears me ramble about genealogy and family history all the time.  He reads my blog and shows mild interest in my discoveries in most cases, but he wasn't overly excited to know that there would be a TV show on genealogy distracting me too!  Being the wonderful husband he is though, he dutifully sat there and watched it with me and he ended up getting pretty sucked into WDYTYA? too!  If my hubby enjoys it, they're doing something right!  Just be happy that we have these shows out there bringing such great publicity to what we all love to do!


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. When I first meet people and when they find out what I do, the absolute FIRST thing they ask is, "Have you seen that show "Who Do You Think Are?"

    It's all about marketing and we should all be grateful for the advertising that does for the byproduct is the advertising for the genealogy industry as a whole.

    Great post!

    ~Caroline Pointer

  2. "Who Do You Think You Are?" is a show that I can and have watched with my daughters, and they were quite fascinated by most of the stories. For my money, that alone makes the show completely worthwhile. And I have enjoyed it, too, especially when I recognize one of the researchers!

  3. Great rant if you call it that, pretty poignant statements that make awesome sense to my mind. Thanks for the positive.

  4. Great post, Cheryl! I think my interest in the show is what prompted my husband to give me a subscription to in the first place. The rest, as they say, is history!

    I'm laughing because once I got started on Ancestry, and watching the show together, he, too, got "sucked in."

    Again, great post! Keep up the good work!

  5. Amen!! Could not agree more, nor say it any better.

  6. I couldn't agree more. And like you, my husband actually watches the show with me and often times I think I might even see a little twinkle in his eye :-)

  7. Thanks for all the comments, everyone! I guess the sporadic posts I've been seeing (pretty much since the show started) really caused a little irritation. Complaining about a good thing just never made sense to me! :)