I know I am going to take some heat for my comments, but here goes.
Episode two of season two of Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) featured country singer, Tim McGraw. The show made a quick leap back to late 1700s Virginia and then wrapped up with early 1700s New York.
Every episode of WDYTYA needs to be different in terms of historical content as well as personality in order to reach out to a broad group of people. Last night's show was very different from the Vanessa Williams episode. There weren't any emotional tugs or teary moments. We weren't cheering Tim on in the same we were cheering on Vanessa.
The fact is that the Williams episode was more of a "chick flick" and the McGraw episode was more of "man's man" show. I'm not saying that all genealogists like chick flicks but genealogists certainly do like a good story. For me, last night's show was something that a regular guy could appreciate. My husband is not into genealogy but I think he would have appreciated the McGraw show. The Tim McGraw episode appealed to a much broader male audience. If that's what it takes to get folks interested in researching their family history then I would consider the show a success. So while everyone may have expected the episode to appeal more to women, ultimately it appealed more to men.
I found Tim McGraw to be genuine without being sappy. His consistent curiosity throughout the show was his way of being a part of the discovery process. Clearly, McGraw, who is not a genealogist, quickly grasped the concepts that were presented to him by the professionals. The researchers got to shine in this episode and I appreciated that as well.
I found the historical topics to be very interesting. I knew little about the frontier history of Virginia and its connection to Native Americans and George Washington. So that was informative for me. I was very happy to see the show feature the story of the Palatines, being descended from them myself. It seems like the Palatines are a small segment of history that don't get featured prominently very much.
Was this episode the home run that the Vanessa Williams episode was? Perhaps not, but I still think it was really good. It reached out to a different demographic in a different way. Hopefully the viewers will be inspired by this episode to look into their own family history. If the audiences goes off and has that first conversation with an uncle or an aunt to start learning about their history then that's success.
I think the Tim McGraw episode succeeded. Maybe not in the way you were expecting but it definitely succeeded.