14 October 2013

Breaking my Silence: Genealogy Roadshow

Passion. Joy. Pride. Sadness. Closure. 

Image: Microsoft Clipart
If you follow me on social media at all, you know I'm a big fan of Genealogy Roadshow on PBS. I also enjoy Who Do You Think You Are? and other mainstream genealogy entertainment. But I especially like Genealogy Roadshow. 

What's all the fuss about, you say? Yes, the stories are told quickly. Yes, they show the highlights and not the behind the scenes work. YES, it is made for tv entertainment, because that is exactly what television production companies do. They are not genealogists. (For more in this vein, I will simply refer you to these excellent posts by D. Joshua Taylor, because he says it far better than I could.)

So, what's the big deal? 

Tonight, in episode four, I caught just a glimpse of how real reality television can be. During the first story, a young lady named Denise, and her family, were featured. From the beginning, she expressed genuine passion for the history of the state of Texas, and the desire to be a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. I commented on Twitter during the airing that the show was only "12 minutes in" and already I was tearing up. Why? Because of the emotion. Denise was undeniably overcome with emotion learning all she did about her family. The genealogist in this section was Josh Taylor, and it was the glimpse of his face that really struck me. You could see the story had affected him, just for a half a second, but it was there, before the camera panned a different direction.

It was not a surprise to see the emotion from him, as well as Denise. You know why? Because without emotion there is no genealogy. This is an emotional venture, we all pursue this because we get hooked by something, lured in by an intriguing story, a mystery, an unknown photograph. Whatever it is that started you on this journey it was heavily connected to emotion. Find one person who would disagree with that, I dare you. 

Research TV? No thanks.

And that's why I like Genealogy Roadshow. Pretty simple, isn't it? The emotion is real; the people participating and sharing their stories aren't actors, they're just people, like you and me. They have questions, they want answers. 

You know what else? I don't think I want a show that puts every second of research out there for me to watch. I rarely turn on the television anyway, so when I do, I want to be entertained. I might as well learn a bit of history and genealogy while I'm at it, but I just want a teeny, tiny bit. Enough to leave me curious, so I will retreat back to my own space, and start pulling up the information for myself. I want the chance to make a bit of the discovery on my own, because I am passionate about learning - as so many of us are. 

Sadly, the pilot season of the series is already over. And that's too bad. I genuinely hope that PBS decides to continue to produce the show. They announced their call for stories last week, after Episode 3, so I will take that as a good sign, and be hopeful. I will faithfully watch WDYTYA? and any other genealogy related television that is announced, simply because I enjoy it. I hope that my colleagues and friends in the genealogy world can do the same. 

While I wait for that, I'll just keep at it. I'll keep researching, learning, discussing, and emoting over my ancestors. 

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