Sunday, March 7, 2010

Family trees make for great tv

It must be a trend: there are two family tree shows that just debuted on television: PBS’ Faces of America with Louis Gates, Jr. (your tax dollars at work); and Who Do You Think You Are on NBC. Faces of America showed Eva Longoria’s reaction when told she was related to world-famous Chinese-American violinist Yo-Yo Ma: “Is he Mexican?” And NBC’s show introduced Spike Lee to a distant white relative. A family member pointed out an interesting fact to me that shows how a little work can end up connecting disparate families: The world’s family tree looks like a pyramid with the wide side at the bottom. Going back century by century, the world’s population is much smaller than it is today, and the likelihood increases of people who were alive back then being related to each other. This makes a Ma-Longoria connection a bit less surprising. (Nevertheless, I didn’t see a Chinese-Mexican link either.)

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