Finding Your Roots
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a documentary television series hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. that premiered on March 25, 2012 on PBS. In each episode, celebrities are presented with a "book of life" that is compiled with information researched by professional genealogists that allows them to view their ancestral histories, learn about familial connections and discover secrets about their lineage.
|Finding Your Roots|
with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
|Written by||Henry Louis Gates Jr.|
|Presented by||Henry Louis Gates Jr.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||76 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Henry Louis Gates Jr.|
|Running time||51–53 minutes|
|Original release||March 25, 2012 –|
|Preceded by||Faces of America|
Season Six was shown from October 2019 to October 2020 with two new episodes airing weekly in October 2019, eight episodes airing weekly in January and February 2020 and six episodes airing weekly in October and November 2020. All episodes air on Tuesdays.
The series uses traditional genealogical research (written records) and genetics (DNA testing) to discover the family history of well-known Americans. Genetic techniques include Y-chromosome DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA analyses to infer both ancient and recent genetic relationships. The show's professionals typically spend hundreds of hours researching each guest. The series has examined the family histories of celebrity guests with African American, Asian American, British American, Chinese American, Dutch American, Greek American, Indian American, Irish American, Italian American, Jewish American and Latin American heritage.
Each celebrity guest is given a book of life which contains all the information discovered about the guest's genealogy by researchers. Included in or within the book are comprehensive genetic results, a family tree that is as complete as paper research allows, copies of historical records used to assemble each tree and photos of newly found family members. In some episodes, particularly ones in which original DNA profiling research must be used to establish a past ancestor's parental link, guests are reunited with long-lost relatives. However, in most episodes, each guest is predominantly shown seated opposite Gates as he guides them through their book of life. To show correlations between the guests' family stories, each episode cuts back and forth between two or three guest stories. To draw further correlations, Gates uses examples from his own genealogy quite frequently. Examples of this would be a grandmother of his having multiple children with a white man whose name she never revealed, as well as Gates' membership into the Sons of the American Revolution.
In addition to celebrity guests, everyday people are sometimes featured in an episode to create a third or fourth story line. Usually the non-celebrity guests are a group of peers. One example of this would be the episode in which Gates has his friends at his local barbershop take a DNA test to determine their ethnic makeup, each friend betting on their percentages of African, European, and Native American genetic heritage. Another episode uses a similar guessing game with students at a local school. Singular secondary guests include Robert Downey Sr. and Margarett Cooper, the latter being a friend of Gates'.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||March 25, 2012||May 20, 2012|
|2||10||September 23, 2014||November 25, 2014|
|3||10||January 5, 2016||March 8, 2016|
|4||10||October 3, 2017||December 19, 2017|
|5||10||January 8, 2019||April 9, 2019|
|6||16||October 8, 2019||January 12, 2021|
|7||10||January 19, 2021||May 4, 2021|
The series has seen two past incarnations on PBS, both of which were hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. In 2006 and 2008, the series African American Lives aired. Both seasons of the series consisted of a season-long storyline as well as an all African American cast. In 2010, Faces of America aired. Though it continued to use the season-long plot from the prior installment, it was the first installment to be hosted by Gates which included Americans of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. Starting with Finding Your Roots in 2012, the series changed from a season-long plot to having plots extending only within a single episode. In doing so, it has allowed the series to extend its number of episodes each season to ten, as opposed to the prior four episodes a season.
Ben Affleck controversyEdit
The show's third season was postponed by WNET after it was discovered that actor Ben Affleck had persuaded Gates to omit information about his slave-owning ancestors. The series returned on January 5, 2016, although "Roots of Freedom", the second-season episode featuring Affleck, was pulled from all forms of distribution by PBS. PBS America, a U.K. TV channel featuring content from PBS in the U.S., continues to feature three clips from the withdrawn episode on its YouTube channel.
In 2016, Cal Thomas of The Baltimore Sun wrote that the show was "The most compelling television you will ever see." In 2015, it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding News/Information – Series or Special.
- "Season Six of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." Premieres Fall 2019 and Airs Through Fall 2020 on PBS, Beginning October 8". The Futon Critic. July 29, 2019.
- "TV Schedule". PBS.
- Williams, Beth (2012). "Genealogy Insider: Behind the Scenes with 'Finding Your Roots'". Family Tree Magazine. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
- Hautzinger, Daniel (October 2, 2017). "How Genealogists Find Your Roots". WTTW. Retrieved July 9, 2021.
- "Finding Your Roots – Episodes". PBS. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
- "Finding Your Roots – About". PBS. Archived from the original on September 18, 2014. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
- Allen, Nick (April 17, 2015). "Ben Affleck's slave-owning ancestor 'censored' from genealogy show". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- Kirell, Andrew (April 18, 2015). "Ben Affleck Demanded PBS Suppress His Slave-Owning Ancestry". Mediaite. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
- Koblin, John (June 24, 2015). "Citing Ben Affleck's 'Improper Influence,' PBS Suspends 'Finding Your Roots'". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
- Guthrie, Marisa (October 19, 2015). "PBS' 'Finding Your Roots' Returns After Ben Affleck Scandal: "Hard Conversations," More Rigorous Process". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
- "PBS: Ben Affleck 'Finding Your Roots' Episode Violated Standards". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles. Associated Press. June 24, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
- "Finding Your Roots: Khandi Alexander". PBS America. January 8, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
- "Finding Your Roots: Ben Affleck (Freedom Summer)". PBS America. January 8, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
- "Finding Your Roots: Ben Affleck (Civil War)". PBS America. January 8, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
- Thomas, Cal (January 9, 2016). "Roots and identity". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on December 5, 2017. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
- Washington, Arlene (February 6, 2015). "NAACP Image Awards: The Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 8, 2021.