Dust off your brain and dig up your thinking cap because in between little people in love and Honey Boo Boo Child, there is some serious learning going down on TLC. "Who Do You Think You Are?" is kind of an infomercial for websites where you can learn about your ancestors. But...
Rest easy, people. This isn't about some random guy Googling himself. The hook is that we get to watch famous people learn about their ancestors. And Tuesday's episode began with the first and best "American Idol" winner, Kelly Clarkson. Hunting for your ancestors is way more exciting when you have a magical budget that lets you fly around the country from one relevant mark to another and hold documents that actually date back to the Civil War. This episode was like "National Treasure" but driven by estrogen rather than espionage. Well done, TLC.
Clarkson's mom (who is adorable, by the way) flew to Clarkson's house (which is adorable, by the way) in Nashville, and the gals started talking about their strength. Clarkson's mom worked her way through college while raising three kids on her own. And, as we know, one of them has made a zillion dollars singing in a way that inspires the masses to move on with their lives even when things are rotten.
Watch Clarkson's video for "Mr. Know It All":
These ladies are tough, and it turns out that fortitude is a total family trait, one best exemplified by Clarkson's great-great-great-grandfather, Isaiah Rose. His life is a perfect example of why people wave American flags on the Fourth of July. He fought in the Civil War — which made Clarkson adorably happy, because he was fighting on the Union side — and he was a prisoner of war. In a particularly moving segment, Clarkson visited the prison grounds in Georgia where he and thousands of other soldiers were held captive. Chilling to the bone.
Isaiah didn't just escape from prison; he went on to become a police officer and then a state senator. He was also a major advocate of temperance. Clarkson was perturbed at first — temperance is antibooze, people — but the historian explained that the movement was more about protecting women, who weren't allowed in saloons and were in danger of being abused by inebriated men.
Clarkson and her mom are proud to know where their deeply American, won't-back-down fighting spirit comes from, as well they should be, Clarkson said it best as she teared up over Isaiah: "What a life."
"Who Do You Think You Are?" airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on TLC.