Roots: The Most Watched Mini Series in the World

As I have mentioned in several previous posts — I am a true lover of all things history. One of the best experiences I have had in a long time is live tweeting this week with people of all over the county and the producers of the Roots Reimagined series. They are truly honoring the retelling of this sacred story. People are sharing their thoughts, what they are feeling, what it’s like to watch it with their kids and comparing this to the original. It’s great to read tweets from black people, white people, Asian people, young people, and our elders.

When Roots aired in 1977, it was as an eight part series that reached 29 million households. By the end of the series it reach 36 million households (100 million plus people). It still stands today as the most watched mini series in history. It was seen in over fifty counties and US Ambassadors across the world held premieres of the movies in host countries. It sparked some of the first conversations of the Holocaust in Germany and caused Nigerians to demand reparations. Warner Brothers called Roots “the most watched mini series in the world.”

It was an opportunity for ALL people in America to learn more about the realities of slavery which the country apparently hungered for. In comparison, today the most viewed show on television is The Walking Dead with 14 million viewers. The Big Bang Theory reached 14.2 million.

For those that have not seen the Roots Reimaging because you think:

  1. Roots didn’t need to be remade (Snoop’s view)
  2. 2. You don’t want to see another “slavery” movie
  3. 3. Not sure it would authentically reflect the accuracy of the original version
  4. 4. You are not African American, so why see it
  5. ***5. NHL and NBA Playoffs are on (Yeah, I know..)

I want you to know I found this Reimagining to be very inspirational and a wonderful reminder of our strength and courage as a people, very intersectional with African Rights of Passage, Native American history (little), Irish American history, womens history and Revolutionary War history, Civil War history, the challenges of Reconstruction and so much more (inbox me if you want more dialogue on this).

It was different from the original version (little things like Chicken George’s skin tone, making Irene part Cherokee, how Fiddler died, new characters — like Anna Paquin’s and Mekhi Phifer that are a reflection of the time) but in a good way. LeVar Burton served as consulting producer from the original RootSeries, Mario Van Peebles was one of the directors, there was an incredible diverse cast that clearly understood the sacredness of this project and a number of historical consultants on the project. This is a true reimagining for 2016. It’s rated TV-MA, though its doesn’t show the worst parts of the time, the audience clearly gets insight into what life was like for all people and it’s good for children to see with parental guidance.

As a true lover of history, and an avid and consistent watcher of the history channel, I was impressed with their live tweeting providing lots of additional facts and information on black history, civil war history, revolutionary war history. They are airing extra specials on Friday and Saturday night and they coordinated a musical festival here in NYC and more.

I loved that they aired Roots on the History, A&E, Lifetime and LMN channels simultaneously to ensure they reached wide audiences! It was a clear signal that they wanted as many Americans to see this as possible — I have never seen them do this before. Overall, it’s a must-see for all.

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