There is a show on TLC called Who Do You Think You Are, and it is probably the only show on that channel that gets me to tear up.
The premise of the show is to take a celebrity and help them learn about their family history and genealogy. The celebrity travels from place to place and meets up to half a dozen different researchers and historical experts over the course of an episode. The celebrity list has included people like Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Broderick, Rosie O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Reba McEntire, Christina Applegate, and Jim Parsons. It can be really interesting and engaging television, but it makes me feel sad.
I know very little about my family history. I can only trace back the last names my parents were born with two generations on my father’s side and seven generations on my mother’s side. I’ve been working on compiling a family tree for what is probably a thousand hours now. The support of experts would be amazingly helpful, especially on my dad’s side of the family, but their time costs between $60 and $150 per hour, and most have a minimum purchase of ten hours, and can’t promise any results, no matter how much time you purchase.
I can only imagine how much it costs the producers of Who Do You Think You Are to get so many experts to spend time researching the family trees of the already rich and famous. I wish I had the money or support of a media empire to help me research my family tree, and I am certain there are other regular people out there that feel the same way I do. While it is interesting to learn more about celebrities, what about those of us with an interest that lack resources?
So when I watch an episode of Who Do You Think You Are, all I can see is a tally sheet of how much money it would be to have a similar level of research put towards my genealogy, and that makes me sad.