Who Do You Think You Are?
I’m not sure how long this program ran, because there are earlier versions. But it was a pleasure to watch because the double whammy of a celebrity guest and any historical period was enticing: who doesn’t enjoy a bit of salacious gossip, especially when we’re watching someone else squirm through their hour.
But it was classy. And the further-flung the better, as the guest would visit actual places of their ancestor’s birth, and meet with genealogical researchers there. I especially enjoyed the fact that so many celebrities seemed to be connected to royalty. Charlemagne appears to have fathered all of Europe.
I was definitely sorry to see it end in 2018.
Finding Your Roots
Now this one is a horse of a different colour. I’ve taken to watching it because it’s the only one of its kind on TV at the moment. But it seems that its host (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) is on a crusade of sorts. Because he is confronting celebrities with hidden histories of slavery (owners and/or slaves), it appears to be a single handed battle against racial inequality. Yes, once in a while, the guest’s ancestors were immigrants from starving and war-torn countries in Europe, Gates still manages to make them feel guilty for not only surviving, but also thriving. Success has its price tag.
Last week, Pharrell Williams had a hard time with the way the information was being presented to him: he paused filming for a month to allow a calmer reaction. “This is messing with my mind,” he kept saying to Gates, because Gates’ normal question is: “How does it feel to learn this?”
I am not enjoying this current series.
This Is Us
Fortunately, this show airs right after Gate’s program (but on a different channel), so most of my grievances dissipate in a fairly short time span. If you don’t want to know what happened during last night’s program (Season 5, Episode 9 “The Ride”) don’t watch this video.
There were two scenes involving Randall that speak to the theme of my post today. The first is his explaining to his second daughter (at a Dairy Queen stop on their way home from hospital) that because he doesn’t know who his parents were, he looks on her and her older sister as branches of his tree. The second is the flash-forward to the family gathering around a fast-failing Rebecca: the three girls, now fully grown, are greeted by their father, Randall, outside, and he says “Here are my branches.” (Deja is definitely included in that description!) That’s when the penny dropped. His family tree…
Pharrell Williams has an ancestor named Pharaoh Williams…
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