It all started last year when seven of the world’s biggest celebrities embarked on journeys of ancestral discovery. NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? first aired last spring, chronicling the family history of actress Sarah Jessica Parker, her husband, film/Broadway actor Matthew Broderick, Friends star Lisa Kudrow, actress Brooke Shields, Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon, NFL great Emmitt Smith, and director Spike Lee.
Adapted from a successful British TV show, Who Do You Think You Are? is an intriguing documentary-style series that traces a celebrity's roots each week, leading them to places all over world, from Newark, New Jersey to Paris, France, Florida to West Africa. Each episode is riddled with emotional reveals as the stars uncover family secrets, hardship, and triumph they never knew before their travels. The series' second episode plots Emmitt Smith’s family tree as he discovers his slave roots. His end-of-the-show resolution is especially moving as he acknowledges God’s hand on his family line. The Lisa Kudrow episode also is particularly touching as she uncovers her family's struggle during the Holocaust. With the help of historians and ancestry.com, the celebrities unveil their family’s past causing them to adopt a new outlook on life. In fact, many of them say what they have learned about their ancestry alters who they thought they were.
The concept of this reality show grabbed my eye last year when it first aired on NBC. It is the type of series that is emotionally engaging and educational. Each episode not only traces family history, it also details historical events of national and international importance. Who Do You Think You Are? reinforces that our history matters to our present. The show also speaks to the importance of family, from generation to generation. But even beyond that, a spiritual legacy is the most important possession we can leave our descendents, even more than land, prestige, money, a brave story, or a tragic one.
A few Scriptures come to mind:
Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. Psalms 112:1-2, NLT
“Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.” Joel 1:3, NLT
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34:6-7 (NLT)
If nothing more, Who Do You Think You Are? reminds us that our lives matter to future generations. Even if I never fully realize my family’s deep past, as these stars have done, I know what my legacy will be – a life full of faith.
This season started with Vanessa Williams’ and Tim McGraw’s stories and carries on with episodes starring Rosie O’Donnell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, and Ashley Judd. New episodes air on NBC on Fridays at 8/7c.
Season One of Who Do You Think You Are? will be available on DVD on March, 15, 2011. Go to www.amazon.com for more information.