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Open Thread Thursday – WDYTYA Season 2

Who Do You Think You Are?

These week’s topic for Open Thread Thursday is:

The celebrity lineup for Season 2 of Who Do You Think You Are? (US version) was announced this week. The glitterati include Steve BuscemiKim Cattrall, Ashley JuddTim McGrawRosie O’DonnellLionel RichieVanessa Williams.

What are your thoughts on this season’s lineup?

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Please either post on today’s topic of “WDYTYA Season 2 Celebrities” at your own blog and then post the link here in the comments or simply add your two cents in the comments section:

  • Given the celebrity lineup just announced for WDYTYA, in your opinion are there any surprises? Any disappointments?
  • How do you feel about the use of celebrities on WDYTYA instead of ordinary, everyday people?
  • Does it seem that WDYTYA has a “formula” that is uses in selecting celebrities for each season? Such as at least one “polarizing” personality? Specific ethnicities? Specific ages (again, there is not one person under 40 this season)?
  • Do you find it possible to watch a segment with a celebrity you dislike, setting aside your feelings, just to see the genealogical research aspect and family history stories?
  • If you could select seven celebrities for a season of WDYTYA, who would you select? And if possible, tell us why you would select each person.

This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

10 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – WDYTYA Season 2

  1. I had never heard of one of those people, and I barely know who a couple of others are. I’m really not a celebrity person.

    I don’t really care who they pick; I find pretty much every human’s genealogy interesting.

    I do think it would be nice to see a little more diversity–Latinos, Asians, etc. But who knows…maybe some of these folks will turn out to have some of that.

  2. It seems like the celebrities are B-list or a little lower – most everyone knows them but they aren’t necessarily superstars. They also seem to be split between New Yorkers and Southerners, with one thrown in from England/Canada. I don’t have any prior knowledge of their background, which may turn out to be very diverse, but it seems like they might have wanted to throw some westerners into the mix for more diverse American genealogy stories. It also seems like they are trying to pick celebrities from different formats (music, tv, movies, etc) to bring in a diverse audience.

    Honestly, I never can come up with anyone I really want to see on the show – I’d just like to see a diverse group that will represent a broad variety of research stories – and hopefully something that will apply to my own research. In the last season they had two celebrities on that I don’t personally care for. The show didn’t help me find them more appealing as people – I actually find them more annoying now… but it also didn’t help that their ancestry didn’t intersect with mine at all and I thought the episodes were badly structured/edited.

    As far as “celebrities vs average joes,” I don’t really think it matters. These celebrities come from the same sort of background as thousands of other people and showcase many of the same areas of research that average folks have. If this show wasn’t about celebrities it wouldn’t be on air. It would be nice to see the show doing research for people who couldn’t otherwise afford it, but I just don’t think that’s going to happen.

  3. My distant cousinship with one suggests I may have personal interest in an episode this season.

    I am surprised to learn that Kim Cattrall was already a guest on the British version. (You can watch the entire episode in 10-minute segments on YouTube.) I wonder if new information has been obtained.

    I don’t think dislike of a particular celebrity would upset me enough to not be interested in the genealogy — it might upset me if my dislike was related to the celebrity having gotten away with a felony, but not due to simple personal preference.

    I suspect they try to select a variety of celebrities so the largest potential audience will find some celebrity they know/admire. In so doing, they will select some that Segment A of the population adores, but Segment B dislikes. That’s just the nature of celebrity.

    There are few celebrities who are universally beloved. I can come up with reasons some people might dislike three of the celebrities, and I’m not too familiar with the careers of the other four.

  4. I already made a brief post on my blog that I was disappointed in the lineup, but I’m usually disappointed in all of the lineups of the celebrity reality shows, such as Dancing With the Stars. So – I watch them anyway.

    After Travis LeMaster pointed out that Tim McGraw’s lineage might be interesting, I remembered that his father was baseball great Tug McGraw. So now I will be interested in seeing if the show follows the McGraw line or a different line of his family.

    The only drawback to Ashley Judd will be if her whining and crying sister and mother show up, which I’m sure they will. I think Ashley is an amazing actress and I do like her. It’s her nuttier-than-a-fruitcake family who annoy me! So it will be interesting if the show researches the Judd line or if it will be from her father’s line. It was disclosed a few years ago that Ashley and Wynonna do not share the same father, a secret that Naomi kept from Wynonna for years. And by the time the information came out, Wynonna’s father had died. She looks just like him.

    Rosie O’Donnell is definitely polarizing. It would be a coup to find out that she is related to her arch rival, Donald Trump. That would be worth watching.

    My money is on Steve Buscemi having the most eye-opening lineage. I still think of him as his character in Fargo, but I’ve got a lot of respect for him for returning to his earlier career as a fireman to help out after 9/11. My gut is telling me that his story will end up being one of the more intriguing and emotional stories. I know nothing of his background – just a feeling.

    Yes – I can watch every episode even if I don’t care for the celebrity. It’s that genealogy itch that gets you – knowing that everyone has a story.

    Who would I select?

    Paul McCartney – because he’s been the heart-throb in my life for more than 40 years. And some of his genealogy has already been published – his mother’s heritage is Irish. I’m curious how far back his lineage can be traced. Were there some wandering minstrels in his ancestry?

    Michelle Obama – it’s been stated many times that Mrs. Obama’s ancestors were slaves. I’d like to learn if specific information and stories about her family can be discovered. I think Megan S.S. has already done quite a bit on this, if I recall.

    I could probably come up with a few more, but those two would make an interesting show. But – much too A List for WDYTYA.

    It’s the celebrity hook that gets people to watch. So even though ‘regular’ people have ancestor stories that are much more interesting, the celebs bring in the viewers. That’s fine with me. I get a kick out of how the research trail is laid out. Sadly, for the casual viewer who has not begun their journey, they’re going to think that you just call up some archive and museum and these documents appear by magic.

    But – as long as it brings more family historians into the genealogy community, that’s okay – we can all use some more long lost cousins to help weave the fabric of our family history.

  5. It is interesting that two of the choices this year also have a ‘celebrity’ parent. Neither are/were ‘A-list’, but Naomi Judd is probably better known than Ashley, and Tim being Tug McGraw’s son could bring in some baseball fans.

  6. I think it’s necessary for the network to use “celebrities” – even if they aren’t superstars – because they need more than just genealogists to watch. Very few non-genealogists would watch if they were tracing one of us just like they wouldn’t watch “Dancing with the GeneaBloggers.”

    I’ve never given any thought as to who I’d like to see – anyone is OK with me since I’m not watching because of the celebrities anyway.

    I suspect the formula for picking the celebrities depends greatly on who is willing to appear and who has a story interesting enough for TV.

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