Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?: Martin Sheen

I just realized I never wrote about this episode. And tomorrow is already the next one - oh well, only a week late!

Those of you who have followed these WDYTYA posts in the past know that my goal is to eventually get through one of these episodes without crying. So far the tally is: crying, every episode; not crying, zip. On that note, I didn't really connect with Martin Sheen's third season premiere episode as much as I thought I would, but I did cry at the previews for the whole season, so that's going to count.

I'm not sure exactly what left me so bleh about much of this episode - I was watching it with the boyfriend, who has never seen the show before, so I had someone to explain a lot of things to and he was able to give me a little bit of a novice's opinion about what he was seeing. As I explained to him, each celebrity usually has a goal they want to achieve or a question they want to answer, and they usually find one person *they* really connect with and want to find out more about. I think maybe it's the fact that most of the episode was spent on Sheen looking into two of his uncles, and nothing further back, that I found kind of boring. He really could've done all that stuff on his own, without the help of Ancestry.com or the show. But in his defense, he really did identify with and admire these two men, and he found in them traits and characteristics that had been passed along to him, and no one should miss out on that. That's part of the fun of genealogy.

The part I did enjoy was when they were talking about his fourth (I think) great-grandfather, the don. First, looking at the Spanish records, I explained to the boyfriend how when I was researching my best friend's Dominican family history, their birth records are very telling - a child will be described as "legitimate" or as "natural," and one means the parents were married, and one means they were not. And I told this all to him before the guy on the show explained it to Martin Sheen, so that made me feel a little cool.

The don, meanwhile, turned out to be a person Sheen didn't particularly care for, a ruthless judge who had an entire illegitimate family, but I think part of genealogy is realizing we're not going to always like the people we're descended from.

But then the cool part, of course, was when it turns out that a girl who the judge had pursued for getting pregnant out of wedlock and seeking an abortion, was another something-great grandparent of Sheens, that generations down the line, her descendant and the don's descendant were married. The boyfriend noted that the reveal of that sent chills down his spine and I agree that it's a pretty interesting story. It's also further proof that it's SOOOO important to know more than just names and dates, that we should try to get at least some rounder picture of these people's lives - in the case of Sheen, if he hadn't known the backstory of these two people, the fact that he was descended from both of them wouldn't have meant anything at all.

Anyway, tomorrow night is Marisa Tomei. The promo made the episode sound beyond melodramatic - murder or cover up? - but I think it sounds interesting, and though I won't get to watch it until the weekend, I'm excited about it.

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