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August 7, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 3 Disappoints

Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 3 Disappoints
Last night I watched Episode 3 of Who Do You Think You Are? with Chelsea Handler on TCL  in partnership with 

If you missed Episode 3 you can watch it on the TLC website.  [Warning: Spoiler Alert in my blog post!]

I confess that I did not enjoy this episode at all. In fact I found it so boring that I fell asleep part way through! That's a first for me.

Chelsea was on a journey to find out about her grandfather's service in the German army in WW2. The hype before the show was aired led viewers to believe that Chelsea, who was raised in the Jewish faith, was going to find details on her grandfather's Nazi past.  It sounded pretty interesting and exciting but alas it was not. 

Her grandfather was an ordinary German citizen who did his duty to his country as a German soldier and nothing more. I honestly was disappointed as I was interested to see how an ancestor who was a confirmed Nazi might affect Chelsea and what conclusions she would draw from her search. 

Had I not seen and heard the hype beforehand I think I could have enjoyed this episode  for what it was - an overall learning experience about German military records. As it was I felt tricked and let down. 

Fingers crossed that next week's episode with Zooey Deschanel is more to my liking


Anonymous said...

I was not that taken with last night's episode either. But so far I have liked this season better than the others I have seen. I hope it goes forward in the same way.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree, and I respect your opinion. Very few things live up to our expectations, however.
I was touched by the scene on St. Rafael beach in France where Chelsea was met by a Jewish American soldier who actually was there that day her grandfather was captured. He explained to her so much about her grandfather's service (Catch 22 situation when group think goes wrong).
It was also touching to see her grandfather playing violin he obviously loved in the POW camp band in the U.S. - the humanity of this dichotomy was beautiful.
My problems with WDYTYA are actually with the production aspect - too often important details are left out of the story or not tied up within the story, over-editing, too much repetition after commercials, and most importantly the unrealistic idea that this work can be done easily & quickly either by yourself or someone else and you can just fly around the world and find all these details about your family and the appearance is that it is free. Talk about misconceptions and misrepresentation...
Otherwise, the show seems to be accomplishhing its task - bringing genealogy to the masses in anthe entertaining and educational way.

char21401 said...

I just watched it this morning. It was an all right episode. I don't think that the show in general is as interesting as it used to be, although, I will still watch it. I liked it better when other lines of a featured person were also explored instead of focusing on just one line. It is the going back several generations that make it more interesting to me.

carolyn said...

Why don't they do ordinary people who have had great finds while searching for family .. I really do not care about famous people and their families and the fact that someone does it all FOR them .. for ratings .. never watched the show .. never will and I am an avid family researcher .. :) just my two cents

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Anonymous #1 - I am really liking this Season also except for last night

Anonymous #2 - I saw the beach in France part but I wasn't as moved as you were. I missed the POW part, perhaps that would have swayed my opinion. I'm glad you weighed in as I like to hear what others thought too. you don't have to agree with me! :-)

Carolyn - I have to say it always astounds me when someone takes such a hardline stance - and have never watched the show or read the book or seen the movie in question! What I'm saying is - how can you judge it if you've never watched it?

Char 21401 - I agree!

The Grandmother Here said...

I have never heard of Chelsea Handler but since the program says that she is an author and a talk show host, I expected her command of English to be better. "Lack of interest on his behalf." "Sense of embarrassment on his behalf." I don't think she's using the word "behalf" correctly.

Elizabeth Handler said...

I liked the episode okay, but as a researcher of a Handler family (my husband's), I would have been much more interested in how researchers find out where Chelsea Handler's father was from, and what the Eastern European Jewish experience was at the end of the 19th century that prompted so many to immigrate to America.

kathlingram said...

I actually turned it off..I am hoping it improves but I have only liked one so far.. last week's was good.

The idea that she had to fly to Germany for the translation was silly..if she was going for some other reason they should have said so.

Is it a production issue> I'm not sure but definitely it " dumbs down" genealogy and so far mothering about genetic genealogy.

Heather said...

I thought it was just me. But so far, none of them have been all that interesting.

My preferences are when blacks research their slavery roots in the US (I have Jamaican research for my husband) and also European/UK genealogy. So far, none of these have really touched on any of that.

Have to agree with Kathleen re the german translation....that was just plain DUMB!! Oh well, maybe it will get better. I don't think it is nearly as interesting as the first 2 years.

Diane said...

I have been mildly disappointed with both episodes #2 and #3 this season. It seems the producers want to focus more on the emotions of the celebrities than the research process, sources, and records.

I enjoy episodes where the "stars" provides known information and assist in searching to find answers to their questions.

I also agree with Kathleen, when she stated flying to Germany for a translation is silly. The producers could easily film a translation in a local college library or state archive. I have friends locally who can translate from the old German...

The producers could also state that one does not have to travel to distant locations to locate most records. It is desirable and fun to travel to see where our ancestor's lived, but not necessary to good research. As you know, in my own research I traveled from Texas to several points in Ontario to see where my ancestors came from and to meet present day cousins, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. But, WDYTYA seems to use the drama of the travel to enhance the stories.

Just my opinions. *grin*

Anonymous said...

Diane said, "...But, WDYTYA seems to use the drama of the travel to enhance the stories."

I always snicker at the show's mixed messages. How many would-be genealogists are encouraged by the easy success of the "Let's look it up on" product placement moments, only to be dissuaded a minute later when the star jets off to some distant state or country. (I find it especially amusing when, after flying to that distant location, the star again hits Ancestry for information.)

nadine said...

Kind of makes you think you have to travel get information. I can't and do most of my research online. I agree there needs to be more on how research is done and less on travel.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this episode and do not need drama to appreciate learning more about the genealogy research process and other people's life. Her grandfather lived through a very tough time and the episode showed us what people had to do to survive, protect their family, and how they hide the full story from family members. Great story and great episode!!! I do not like the pre-show hype that misleads us.

mshallen said...

This was not the best done show I have seen. I doubt that Chelsea is as dumb as she came across and I doubt that the producers and writers are as dumb as they came across as well. It really is an interesting story to inherit such deeply polar opposite cultures- but even that aspect felt largely watered down. I agree with those who said it seemed ridiculous to fly to Germany for a translation- I would love to just have seen the houses when my ancestors lived or streets where they shopped! I also agree with Carolyn that it would be a wonderful thing to do a few shows about regular people who are not famous who have an interesting tale. What a great promotion that could be! Yes something was missing. A dramatic story was really not told well at all.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the episode and it's started several interesting conversation this week. First, I learned about how horrible the conditions were after WWI in Germany, and with the promise of jobs, many people were pro-Hitler. I found it interesting that there was a fabulous military museum in Berlin and the details they had kept on her grandfather's service. I enjoyed the beach, the American Jewish soldier, the idea the Germans did not know how to surrender. I had no idea that we kept POWs in Iowa! We were very good to them here. They thought they'd be treated horribly. I also learned about the 50 percent of Germans that were in the middle (you'll need to watch the show for an explanation). But I'm the kind of person that goes to tiny towns to eek out the smallest of details in my family's life. That's what this program was all about. Oh! And altho it was editted incorrectly, she did not go to Germany for the translation. She went to see where her grandfather lived, and worked and in addition, they gave her a translation. It was not the only place, but happened to be the place where it was done.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Carolyn's comment. It is always nice to hear about other's research, however, I'd rather hear from the ordinary people that have had their own experiences in reseaching their families. I've had so many strange experiences in finding my families - and I'm sure others have too. I think that would be much more interesting than watching someone else digging out the information for you. Many of us started our genealogies before computers - we wrote letters and waited for replies. Still we linked to our families somehow. We had to figure out how and where to get the information - dig through old records in foreign languages, etc.

I'm just disappointed in this series of "Who Do You Think You Are". Many of us have better stories to tell about the strange events in finding our families.

Just my opinion..


Anonymous said...

I like the way it shows how ancestry works but so far I'm not impressed with who they are!!!!!
Why just the younger set? why not diversified and have older as well as younger mixed, This whole new season is for the younger set,not that they don't have a history to look for but please make it for all generations & not so much hype but just what it contains we are ancestry subscribers who want to see the fact not the hype to get a bigger audience

Anonymous said...

Regular people cannot hire,travel all over to get all this information, show how we can get as much information for ourselvesby other means & how to go about it ,,,Now that would be interesting, entertaining and educational

Anonymous said...

I have to say that when the show was on NBC I loved it. They have changed the way they do things on TLC and I do not enjoy it nearly as much. They concentrate on only one ancestor on this version whereas the other one gave you insight into several of them and showed the actual 'trail' of investigation. It was a lot more interesting that way.

Anonymous said...

I like the show but I think they should have a contest to pick 50 or 10 winners to help them with their genealogy instead of a famous person all the time.

Anonymous said...

I have been doing genealogy for 30 years. I love this show no matter what network. Last week wasn't the most interesting, but if you are also an family historian, it had it's merits.

I do totally agree with two points well made--the overseas travel and the lack of following other family lines.
Pay tribute to those of us who started long before theinternet.Either cut the commercials or give this show the full 2 hours it needs and do the show as it should be done.

I was touched by C. Applegate's family search. It showed what records are in courthouses and not online. I enjoyed the follow-up regarding the headstone.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you. I really enjoyed that episode and was very pleased that she found out her grandfather wasn't a Nazi.

Unknown said...

I just watched it last night. I think the concentration this season on one family member or branch of family brings more of a story to the practice of genealogy. Isn't that why we do it? to get the story?

However, I am disappointed that there is not more explanation of how the research is done, and less emphasis on traveling to sites such as Germany and the South of France. Many researchers never get to make these pilgrimages.

Re: Chelsea's command of the English language. This is how she speaks all the time. It is quite annoying, and seems contrived, but I don't think she realizes it.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed to see there are no people of color on the show this season. I hope this will be addressed & resolved in future.

As an African-American, I would to see how others have tackled their search for ancestors during slavery & prior to this horrific era in our country's history. I have traced my great-great grandparents back to the mid-1830s and fear this is as far back as I can go.

My genealogy group recommended this show. I have watched a couple episodes so far. I was hoping for more information on how to do research. Watching people with the financial resources to pay someone to do all the hard work for them was somewhat disappointing. I will continue to watch though & take from it what I can.

BerndH said...

This episode hit home for me. My family, on both sides, is German. They are from the Baltic States and their story has its own tragedies.
They were in the middle 50 percent, do survive and work they had to take out Party memberships. Maternal Grandfather was an educator in Estonia. My father volunteered for military service to avoid the SS draft. He ended the war in a British POW camp in Denmark (anyone know where records might be?). I know very little and cannot asked them as they died before my interest in genealogy. Surviving relatives speak very little of that time and getting answers is like pulling hen's teeth.