When Reality TV Meets Genealogy…Relative Race – Have You Watched?

I love watching TV. I have memories of me and my sister going to my Granny’s after school watching reruns of Good Times, the Jeffersons, and the Brady Bunch.  I still love watching reruns of classic 70s and 80s shows.  As much as I love TV, I don’t have anything on my sister.  She watches everything, new shows, reruns, reality TV, dramas, comedies, and game shows.  You name it, she’s probably seen at least one episode.  So when I recently discovered a reality show that combines adventure and family history, I knew my sister would immediately be hooked.

This show is called Relative Race, and it is on BYUTV. I just discovered this show about a month ago.  The show has just completed taping the third season which will air in March 2018.  So I was able to catch up and watch the first two seasons.  The show’s concept is similar to the Amazing Race in that the paired up couples travel across America and complete challenges.   But the show has a genealogy twist in that the contestants have submitted an Ancestry DNA test prior to taping.  The DNA results provide relative matches that the contestants will meet for the first time in each city along the race.  It is a 10 day, 10 city trip.  So if the couple survives without getting three strikes (you get a strike if you are the last couple to arrive in your city) they would have met 10 relatives in 10 different cities that they have never met before and probably would never meet if it weren’t for the DNA testing.

There are a few aspects of the show that I find interesting. For example from what I have seen the contestants are not what I would call hardcore family historians.  Most of them haven’t actually completed a family tree.  But the relatives that they meet along the way are more into family history.  Most of the relatives have been researching their ancestry for well over 10 years or more.  The relatives they meet are able to show them how they are related, using Ancestry.com of course.  They are able to sometimes explain who their shared ancestor is.  And they usually have photos, family heirlooms, or stories that they can share with the contestants.

Another aspect of the show is that on the first day of the show, the contestants learn that they will be driving across America without the use of their smartphones, internet, or GPS. They are only required to use paper maps and a flip phone during this adventure.  So this show is not only about the relatives the contestants meet along the way, it’s also about the couple’s relationship with each other.  You get to see the couple interact with each other while spending hours upon hours in a car alone with just each other.  This is so fascinating to me because all of the travelings my family did during my youth was in a car.  And that was at a time without cell phones and technology to keep you busy.

So my sister and I watched the first two seasons together while she was visiting during the holidays.  My sister has lived in San Diego, California for the last five years.  So just as I started on this journey she moved and hasn’t had the opportunity to be involved in my research, not that I think she would want to go to libraries and archives with me.  Relative Race gave me a chance to do something genealogy related with my sister for the first time during my research journey.  Genealogy is not just about census records, microfilm, names, and dates.  Genealogy is also about time spent with family and making memories.  And that is what we did, we spent time together watching TV that just happens to be about genealogy, and she loved it.

Relative Race also got me to thinking about the AncestryDNA test I took over three years ago.  My goal in taking the test was to find out what region from Africa my family was from.  I really haven’t utilized the DNA matches at all.  This show has motivated me to look more into my DNA matches.  But not only that, it got me to thinking about all the relatives that I do know that live across America and haven’t seen in years.  I haven’t been able to get anyone to agree to apply for the next season with me, so me being on the show probably won’t happen.  But I think a few road trips to see relatives that I do know may be in my future.  You never know where motiviation and inspiration will come from, it might just come from watching reality TV.  And this is why my journey continues…

Click HERE to read more about my own genetic DNA testing

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