I never thought we'd ever feature a bona fide celebrity on this site, but today is the day. I've been eagerly awaiting the debut of Who Do You Think You Are?, a new show on NBC which follows one celebrity each week as she is taken on a journey back into her own genealogy and ancestry. The first show features Sarah Jessica Parker, first talking to both her mother and brother who don't think they have very much ancestry at all--their family consists of immigrants. They talk about the unlikelihood of having "Mayflower ancestors". Her brother says, "We don't have much lineage," as if to say because they don't know who their ancestors are, they don't have any.
One great-grandfather stands out as Sarah speaks to her mother, with the surname Hodge, which sounds possibly English and so un-immigrant-like! Of course the Hodges were immigrants, too, but that is not addressed in this show.
What I find interesting about Sarah Jessica's experience is how similar it is to my own. No, we don't have ancestors in common that I'm aware of, but the discoveries, beauty, suffering and depth of feeling are what I felt as I went on my own journey, and it's what I've witnessed over and over as other people remember who they are. I've heard these stories many times and yet I never tire of hearing them again. Why? Because I love truth and I love feeling connected to that deep "Ah" of discovery. It's a kind of settling in, a sense of, "That's what I always knew but didn't really know."
Sarah Jessica is visibly moved by each uncovered layer of her ancestry. She agonizes over the thought that her own ancestors could have been perpetrators during the Salem witch trials, and she vows that she "would really want to somehow, and this is of course ridiculous, fix it", adding, "I really actually find this physically upsetting, it's really horrible." No,it's not ridiculous to want to heal these wounds!
At the end Sarah Jessica feels firmly "American", and feels a deep sense of belonging. She has given her daughters the middle names of Hodge and Elwell, ancestors she found through this process.
Left unexplored is why she felt so non-American before, except that her ancestors are German immigrants on her mother's side and Eastern European Jewish on her father's side, making them more recent immigrants than her English ones. Obviously, they are not delving into spiritual ways of remembering on this TV show. When the paper trail runs out--this is where Spirit comes in through dreams and synchronicities.
Upon googling the show itself, I found that it's been produced in other countries for years! England first, then Ireland and Australia and more. I would love to watch each and every one of them--even the celebrities I'm not familiar with. Some celebrities' stories weren't used on the show because the researchers didn't find anything "interesting". Yes, drama sells. The show is produced by Lisa Kudrow along with the original U.K. producers and sponsored by Ancestry.com. Have you watched it? Let us know in the comments. Watch the show online or on NBC Friday nights, and stay tuned for further reviews of this show!