lisa kudrow who do you think you are

Who Do You Think You Are? Televised Celebrity Genealogy Hopes To Illuminate History

Lisa Kudrow was on ABC’s The View Wednesday, promoting her new show, Who Do You Think You Are?, an adaptation of the award-winning hit BBC television documentary series of the same name. Kudrow is executive producer of the show which leads celebrities on genealogical journeys to discover the genetic answer to “who they are” — at least as best genealogy can.

Rumors about the debut of this show have been swirling for well over a year, and those of us who enjoy the personal side of history (if not the celebrity-side of the production), have been stymied as to why we’ve had to (impatiently) wait. But it’s finally here!

The show debuts this Friday, 3/10/10, with Sarah Jessica Parker. Other celebrities include Susan Sarandon, Emmitt Smith, Spike Lee, Brooke Shields, and Matthew Broderick.

Kudrow puts herself in front of the cameras for this series too, sharing a particularly poignant story discovered in her family tree. Her family’s personal tragedy not only chronicles WWII history, but pierces the intellectual shield most of us have in processing and recalling such horrors… Something that only increases as witnesses to those dark moments in history leave us.

If you’re tempted to dismiss this as more celebrity adoration, or pure dramatic sentimentality, Kudrow and I want to assure you that genealogy may be personal, but it’s also much larger than that — it’s about the historical context.

Personal stories always illuminate the dry facts and dates of history into reality, celebrity or not. Heck,  even the reasons why you hit a wall or can’t fill in the blank in your family’s story is illuminating.  For example, in this clip, in which Kudrow shares what she found out about the family history of the ladies on The View, the matter of why it’s so much harder to find out family tree information for African-Americans is discussed.

As for the series, well, I haven’t seen it yet; but April MacIntyre has, and she’s interviewed Kudrow too:

One of the things that I did like about your particular series was the interspersed history lessons. Will that continue throughout into the next season?

Lisa Kudrow: Oh boy. It will continue and hopefully there can be more of it because the BBC version has a lot of that. The thing is that it’s not just dry history, it’s back story that’s essential once you’re invested in these characters like Sarah Jessica, (John Hodge) or (Esther Elwell) and you need to know the back story which is history.

Dan Bucatinsky: It’s context.

Lisa Kudrow: And that’s what I mean by because there’s an intimacy to it now that it’s not just dry history that happened to strangers. It has more impact and that’s – we’re supposed to study history. We’re supposed to know what we’ve done before, how did we do things? How did it work? How didn’t it work to learn from it and hopefully this makes it worth knowing.

Most promising.

Who Do You Think You Are? airs Friday night on NBC at 7 PM, Central time (check local listings). I know what I’ll be watching!

*****

I’m a Brand Ambassador for The View. As a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime, I will receive a tote bag or other The View branded item to facilitate my reviews; as you can tell from my long-winded posts about The View, the tote or whatever I may get is not my priority, but I mention it to be ethical.

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Deanna

Deanna is the founder of Inherited Values, among other sites. She is also an antique dealer.

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