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Who Do You Think You Are? is returning to NBC after six years on TLC

Who Do You Think You Are? is returning to NBC after six years on TLC
On the final TLC season of Who Do You Think You Are?, Regina King learned that one of her ancestors was on the Ku Klux Klan’s "black list," which was used to terrorize black people. (Image from Who Do You Think You Are?)

After six years and seven seasons on TLC, the reality series Who Do You Think You Are? is returning to NBC, where it aired three seasons between 2010 and 2012. It has also picked up an odd executive producer: Ancestry.com.

NBC has ordered 13 new episodes, but did not announce an airdate or timeframe for production or broadcast.

The show, executive produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, follows a different celebrity in every episode, as they talk with experts and historians who help them trace their family history.

An abbreviated four-episode season aired on TLC last December, and featured Mandy Moore, Josh Duhamel, Regina King, and Matthew Morrison. Here’s a scene from Regina King’s episode, in which she learns that her great-great grandfather was targeted by the KKK in a newspaper:

After NBC originally cancelled the show, TLC picked it up a year later, airing new episodes in the summer of 2013. At the time, TLC’s GM Amy Winter said the show “is at home on TLC,” and Lisa Kudrow said, “TLC is a great home for the series, and we join our excited celebrity participants as we unearth some amazing background and surprising histories.”

Now, in an NBC press release, Kudrow said, “Dan and I could not possibly be happier to be back at NBC where we get to work with Paul Telegdy, George Cheeks and Meredith Ahr. It honestly feels like we’re back home.”

NBC reality executive Meredith Ahr said in the press release:

“Now, more than ever, people are looking to connect with their ancestry to uncover a deeper understanding of who they are. We’re excited to once again travel around the world with some of our favorite celebrities as they get answers and surprises about family members who came before them.”

A reality show, now executive produced by a sponsor

The Comeback's Valerie Cherish
Who Do You Think You Are? executive producer Lisa Kudrow in her iconic role as Valerie Cherish on The Comeback. (Photo by John P. Johnson/HBO)

Ancestry.com sponsored the show on TLC, but now it’s listed as an executive producer alongside Kudrow and Bucatinsky, which is super weird:

“From executive producers Lisa Kudrow, Dan Bucatinsky and Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, the series returns to NBC at a time when ancestral and genealogical exploration is enjoying unprecedented popularity. Cutting-edge research tools and billions of digitized records from Ancestry will provide remarkable insights into the star’s background and illustrate the cultural mosaic that connects us all together.”

In reality television, “executive producer” credits can signify that someone is a showrunner guiding day-to-day production, or it could simply be a contractual arrangement, like with a show’s star getting an EP credit as part of a deal, even though they don’t do any producing.

It’s still weird to see a sponsoring company listed as an executive producer next to human beings. The show will actually be produced by Shed Media, the production company behind of The Real Housewives of New York City and other reality television.

The series won an editing Emmy in 2016; it’s also been nominated four times in the structured reality category.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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