We have to forgive all the infatuation over celebrity family trees that permeated the media over the last few years. It's obvious that it was all intended as a ratings grabber, despite NBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" having dignity and age-busting appeal that you don't see on TV much anymore. And based on effusive comments online about its cancellation this month, it doesn't necessarily appear that everyone had abandoned watching it either.
That's why it came as a bit of a surprise that NBC wouldn't stick with this show or at least try a better time slot than Friday nights at 8pm. It's not that we're done with celebrity ancestry shows entirely if you include Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s "Finding Your Roots" on PBS. There, you have a show that spins even more plates showing the fascinating comparisons between two or among three different celebrity family trees.
But now that we know about the familial and intercontinental origins of nearly half of Hollywood thanks to these two shows, it's hard to believe that ancestry shows are finished. It's surprising that no one has thought of doing an ancestry show (sponsored by Ancestry.com, of course) that chooses random people in the United States to examine their family trees.
Before you think that such a thing wouldn't be a ratings grabber, consider that we have millions of very non-famous Americans who have more fascinating family history than many A-list celebrities. On your own street, you could have a neighbor who has as many famous cousins as President Obama has. News like that can be considerably more interesting than hearing the umpteenth story about how President Obama is related to George W. Bush via 20 different cousins.
Yes, had "Who Do You Think You Are?" and "Finding Your Roots" gone that tiresome route, ancestry shows would have been gone a year ago.
With the opportunity to examine common people's ancestral heritage, it should be done via a lottery system so there won't be any bias on who gets the royal Ancestry.com treatment. While doing this shows a little bit of our heritage one person at a time, it'll be inevitable that the random person will have ancestral connections to a celebrity. That won't be an excuse for said celebrity to hijack the show, though it wouldn't hurt to have a cameo.