I don’t think there has been a time since the original Dallas series (you remember, “who shot JR?”) that I have been so obsessed about a tv schedule. This season’s WDYTYA line-up was first touted by the genea-sphere as “mundane”, “cookie cutter”, “run of the mill” choices in celebrities. But the first two episodes have proven to be anything but.
The series started off with the southern sweetness of Kelly Clarkson. Her youth and celebrity stand to open up the world of genealogy research to a younger audience. Kelly was able to show young adults why knowing who your ancestors were is important. It’s not just dusty books, yellowing documents and old photos. It’s about knowing who you are and how some of your traits came to be. I loved that she hugged every archivist or genealogist that she came in contact with. And I loved her innocence, honesty and down-to-earth greeting with her 3x great grandfather at his grave “S’up?” Her pride in her true American Hero, her great-great-great grandpa was heart-warming. And the message that she was able to share with others is that her raw determination and gumption are inherited family traits.
And what could possibly top the Christina Applegate story? Christina’s initial quest was to bring peace and closure to her father who has lived his entire 70 years not knowing who his mother was. The truth was that Christina’s grandparents were young and immature. A truth faced by many. The outcome, was rather circuitous however, in that although custody of her father had been awarded to his mother, he ended up being raised by his paternal grandmother.
Two of the most emotional scenes were Christina’s father seeing a photo of his mom for the first time. Imagine being 70 years old and not knowing what your mother looked like. And then at the burial site. Hallowed ground. An unmarked grave. No indication of a life having been lived or worthy of being remembered. Thankfully, Christina’s father changed that. With those three heart-warming words on her tombstone: “I found you, Mom”
I can’t wait until Tuesday night to see what the next episode brings. Chelsea Handler was raised in a Jewish neighbourhood by a Mormon mother of German descent. Wonder what stories she will uncover?