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Finding Your Roots, Season 2 9x60

Noted scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. helps people discover long-lost relatives hidden for generations within the branches of their family trees in Finding Your Roots. In the second season, Professor Gates continues that journey, utilizing a team of genealogists to reconstruct the paper trail left behind by our ancestors and the world’s leading geneticists to decode our DNA and help us travel thousands of years into the past to discover the origins of our earliest forebears. Joining Gates in this new season of Finding Your Roots are a diverse group of 26 guests, including award-winning journalist Anderson Cooper, tennis great Billie Jean King, legendary author Stephen King, multi-platinum selling rapper Nas, and many more.

With these guests and others, Gates continues his quest to understand our collective American identity, bringing to life the family histories of African American, Asian, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Latin American guests alike. Over nine episodes the series reveals rich family stories, tracing back to the subjects’ ancestors arrival on America’s shores, and beyond: deep into the history of their countries of origin. Each hour highlights three guests bound together by an intimate, sometimes hidden link, as Gates treks through layers of ancestral history, uncovers secrets and surprises of their family trees, and shares life-altering discoveries.

In each episode, Gates focuses on the specific ethnic roots, cultural traditions, and deep interplay of family influence and genetics of three guests, including: celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez, and Ming Tsai, who cook the food of their ancestors and discover family members who have shaped their lives—and America’s cuisine; Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King, and Rebecca Lobo, three of America’s greatest athletes whose determination and love of sports were deeply shaped by their families, but who were all cut off from their true origins—raising the question of whether champions are made or born; actress Tina Fey, humorist David Sedaris, and journalist George Stephanopolous, all of whom look into their Greek American ancestry; and American playwright Tony Kushner, singer-songwriter Carole King, and lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who not only share a Jewish heritage, but a history of perseverance in the face of withering opposition.

Gates also explores the history of the Vanderbilt family with Anderson Cooper, discovers a web of intimate relationships between Nas’ slave ancestors and their masters, and traces Sting’s roots back centuries in England where we find that being close to the seat of the Empire doesn’t mean that life is any better.

New advancements in DNA testing allow Gates and his team to use genetic genealogy to make unprecedented discoveries about the past in Season Two, including being able to identify tribal Native American ancestry, solve paternity mysteries, and pinpoint the geographic origins of hidden ancestry. These new achievements in DNA testing take center stage with an entire episode devoted to exploring the possibilities, all the while featuring the stories of actress Jessica Alba, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and even Gates, himself.