First off, I am well aware that this documentary is not perfect. Having studied history, I feel that this documentary was lacking in some parts. Still, this series is solid and tight.
I learned a lot of neat trivia from this that I had not known before. This documentary feels to be geared more towards beginners, rather than scholars. If you're a history expert, you will find some parts lacking. (I am not a expert, but I do love history) but you will also most likely also learn some new things here. This would be a fun documentary for middle or high school students, as well as people who would like a basic (NOT a complete) overview of American history. I mean, it's impossible to give a complete overview of 400 years of history in twelve episodes, (less than twelve hours when you take out the commercials)
I can't say that I enjoyed all of the guest speakers, but some of them were rather relevant. Donald Trump talked about the Great Depression. Al Sharpton talked about the role of black people. And so on and so forth. Some of the guest speakers were better suited for their roles than others - I can't imagine why they would have Sheryl Crowe on this, but Rudy Guilliani was good. My biggest gripe was that they had P Diddy on there. COME ON. Why him? They also had the guy from Pawn Stars in the final episode, and I was excited to see him, but he didn't really contribute anything worthwhile, what he said didn't add anything to the documentary.
This is different from other History Channel documentaries in the past. It concentrates more on PEOPLE, not things/artifacts (this is why it's called The Story of *Us*) and the struggles, trials, and tribulations of a growing country. Yeah, this series did not say much about World War 1 or the War of 1812, but remember, the History Channel has separate documentary series on all different wars and other things, so if you wish for a more complete overview on a particular war or event, you can search the History Channel site or YouTube for documentaries that are more specific on one subject. This is not a documentary about war or politics, but how we have changed through our history, what innovations effected these changes (the Transcontinental Railroad, the Model-T and assembly line production, etc)
The writing's solid and fairly well-written. If you're looking for a documentary that is fun and interesting to watch, this is the one for you. Kids will also enjoy this. My roomate (who's not a geek like me) found herself enjoying this and learning a lot from it even though history isn't what she is interested in. I will say that some things became more clear for me in this documentary - some 'aha! I get it now!' moments. A few parts were repetitive, but overall the series moved at a smooth pace.
If I had to grade this, I'd give it a solid B. It might not be History Channel's best series, but for those of you wishing to learn something new or want a different perspective on American history, it's worth watching.
It would be cool to see a 'Story Of Us' for other countries, though since most countries are older than America (China's history is over 5000 years old) that would be a difficult task that needs to be carried out carefully (meaning no celebrity speakers who have nothing to add to the documentary!)