Last night was the premier episode of season two for the NBC television show Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA). For those who are not familiar with WDYTYA it is a program that follows a celebrity as they trace their family roots. It's a voyage of discovery.
When the program began last year there were certain flaws to the program. Most genealogists tolerated the flaws out of appreciation for having a program of this kind on mainstream tv. There was quite a bit of discussion on the internet about the pros and cons of season one.
I'm very happy to say that the producers of the show must have been listening. Episode one of season two featured Vanessa Williams - without any of the annoying aspects of season one. The producers did away with the incessant previews and recaps that occurred before and after every commercial. Those recaps insulted the intelligence of viewers. Did they think we were so slow that we couldn't remember what had just happened? This year NBC is treating us like intelligent human beings.
There may have been other tweaks to the show that I can't quite put my finger on. The show seemed more genuine. Vanessa Williams didn't over-emphasize her reactions to discoveries. She seemed very authentic. Last season there was one show in particular where the actor was a little unrealistically exuberant in their reactions.
Numbers and Advertising Down?
Today Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers reported in a post about the show that the ratings for adult viewers age 18-49 was down 18% from the debut last year. Though he does note that another source says the numbers overall reached a series high.
Last year I remember seeing a tremendous amount of advertising for the show before its debut. I don't recall seeing a single advertisement this year. Could it be viewers in the 18-49 bracket was down because they didn't promote it as much? It could be that *I* didn't watch much NBC in the weeks prior to the start of season two.
If you saw advertisements on NBC ahead of time please let me know.
The bottom line is last night's episode featuring Vanessa Williams was excellent. It was warm, educational and interesting. It provided great information on African American history and did a great job of breaking some African American historical stereotypes. I think we were all rooting for Vanessa by the end of the show. What fulfilling and reaffirming discoveries she made about her own family!
And that's the point of family history. Researching our family history helps us connect to our ancestors and to understand our current family in a meaningful way that often provides a sense of peace. I hope people take away from the show they don't have be famous to feel the same kind of connectedness to their own family.