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Thread: Finding Your Roots (PBS) and other genealogy shows

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    Bitten Critical's Avatar
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    Finding Your Roots (PBS) and other genealogy shows

    What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the new PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Harvard scholar turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 12 renowned Americans professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.
    This series premiered right around the start of the Olympics, so a lot of people may have missed it. I got caught up watching the first three (of four) episodes online and am in love with it! I know NBC is doing something similar and I'll watch that one too, but this one is fantastic. Gates examines the family histories of 12 well-known Americans and looks at what it means to be an American and how those specific 12 families ended up here. It's incredibly interesting and moving.

    Faces of America | PBS
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    I'm watching too Crit. I enjoyed the program he had before this too, called African American Lives, but it's very cool to see and learn about the ancestries of people from all sorts of races/cultures/what have you. I remember in the first series there were some aspersions cast about the methodology they use, but really, I'm sure no one is going to use these results to file a blood quorum or anything. It's just interesting stuff to know.

    I hadn't heard about the NBC show; I'll have to look out for that as well because I too find this kind of thing fascinating.

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Quote Originally Posted by MotherSister;3845477;
    I hadn't heard about the NBC show; I'll have to look out for that as well because I too find this kind of thing fascinating.
    It's called Who Do You Think You Are? (cheesy network title, imo) and it premieres this Friday at 8. Here's the official site: Who Do You Think You Are - NBC Site
    The commercials I've seen feature Sarah Jessica Parker, Lisa Kudrow and (I think) Emmitt Smith. It seems like it's more of a straightforward genealogy thing, but still interesting. I'm definitely going to watch.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Oh, thanks for the link. I remember hearing about the British version of that show. I see NBC is also going to have Spike Lee and Matthew Broderick; sounds awesome.

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Thanks for the heads-up! I'm going to check out both shows.

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Quote Originally Posted by MotherSister;3845714;
    Oh, thanks for the link. I remember hearing about the British version of that show. I see NBC is also going to have Spike Lee and Matthew Broderick; sounds awesome.
    One of the previews I saw for the show said something like "...featuring seven of the world's most beloved celebrities." It also includes Susan Sarandon and Brooke Shields (along with Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Spike Lee, Emmitt Smith and Lisa Kudrow, who is producing also). It's a pretty good deal for Sarah Jessica and Matthew's kids - they get their whole family tree! I'm so interested in genealogy, so I find this fascinating. I wish I could afford for this kind of treatment for my own family tree!

    On the PBS show, the parts I found the most moving were when Gates presented Yo-Yo Ma with that huge bound history of his family and then when he told Kristi Yamaguchi about how her grandfather served with distinction in WWII. I pretty much cried through a lot of it, because I found it all so moving. Just seeing how touched and excited these people were by all the new information about their family history was really special.

    The fourth episode focuses on DNA analysis as a genealogical method, so that should be interesting. More than a few of the 12 celebrities will be related. When Gates was on The Colbert Report, they talked about it. I think they said that Stephen Colbert is related to three of them!
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Yeah, the PBS version was very touching. Everyone was so moved. Stephen Colbert was so insulted by the history of Irish paupers against the English, and it was hilarious to hear he's the whitest man in America. I really enjoyed the whole "discovery" of Yo-Yo Ma's family tree in China too, or the male half of it anyway. Meryl Streep and her DAR family history was quite turbulent, and then I loved the way they contrasted it with Louise Erdrich's story. And I loved her talking about her grandfather and reservations, etc. I was very interested in her reasons for not wanting to go through the whole DNA breakdown. Anyway, basically I loved it all. Bittersweet, but really inspiring.

    The royalty talk and all the common ancestor stuff was awesome; what coincidences. But I bet if you took data from any random group of 10 people, you'd find a common ancestor somewhere.

    The NBC show is okay; I watched the preview this week with SJP, and everything about the woman accused of witchcraft was really interesting, but the show is a little over the top. All of the overwhelming strings in all the music cues, the cliffhanger commercial breaks, etc. But I'll keep watching it. I love these stories.

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    I DVRed the last episode of the PBS show, but I haven't yet watched it. I did watch the NBC version with Sarah Jessica Parker, and loved it. For me, studying history never really seemed "real" to me -- for whatever reason, I couldn't see historical people and events as real people/real events. I could only see it as documentation. Not sure if that makes sense or not. Genealogy puts a real human/real face perspective on it. I would love to have all of the resources, expert genealogists, and tools that these shows provide to look into my own family history. If only it could be that easy for "regular" people! I'm psyched to watch the PBS episode. I think I'll enjoy watching both the PBS and NBC versions. Thanks again for the heads-up!

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    I watched Who Do You Think You Are? and I did enjoy it, but it definitely wasn't as well done as the PBS show. Obviously, NBC has to amp up the fake drama to make it more exciting I'll still watch because I find it interesting, but it's not put together as well as the other show, which I felt was organized in a more watchable way. I think I'm most interested to see Lisa Kudrow's episode since I like her the most out of the celebrities doing the show.

    Oprah is doing a show on (I think) Tuesday about both shows and Skip Gates will be a guest. Of course, I'm sure she'll have to bring up the whole police thing last year instead of focusing on the PBS show. Still, I'll be watching because I love him.
    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' - Isaac Asimov

    I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"

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    Re: Faces of America (PBS)

    Quote Originally Posted by Critical;3851014;
    I watched Who Do You Think You Are? and I did enjoy it, but it definitely wasn't as well done as the PBS show. Obviously, NBC has to amp up the fake drama to make it more exciting I'll still watch because I find it interesting, but it's not put together as well as the other show, which I felt was organized in a more watchable way. I think I'm most interested to see Lisa Kudrow's episode since I like her the most out of the celebrities doing the show.

    Oprah is doing a show on (I think) Tuesday about both shows and Skip Gates will be a guest. Of course, I'm sure she'll have to bring up the whole police thing last year instead of focusing on the PBS show. Still, I'll be watching because I love him.
    I agree Critical. The Gates' show is more scholarly to a degree but both shows reveal what can be done with an open check book and untold interns pouring over old newspapers for tidbits about the Halaby family or jetting to the location in question to interview local experts. I just want to win the $20,000 to follow thru with my own family research. Gates' crew can find newspaper articles on Queen Noor's ancestors who had recently arrived in America and I can't find obits for family who lived in the same county for their entire lives.
    I agree with others that Matthew Broderick& SJ Parker are getting the gift of a lifetime for their children. I just want to see where at Gettysburg the Park Gude is taking him.
    Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day---Harry S. Truman

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