Documentary & Biography TV Shows

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About Documentary & Biography

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

About This Genre
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Dateline
Dateline
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Shark Week
Shark Week
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
20/20
20/20
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Snapped
Snapped
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Intervention
Intervention
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
I Survived
I Survived
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Red Rock Serenade
Red Rock Serenade
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Disappeared
Disappeared
Frontline
Frontline
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
How It's Made
How It's Made
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
Earthflight
Earthflight
Nature
Nature
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
A Football Life
A Football Life
POV
POV
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
American Experience
American Experience
Crime 360
Crime 360
American Gangster
American Gangster
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Lindsay
Lindsay
Killing bin Laden
Killing bin Laden
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
After The First 48
After The First 48
American Masters
American Masters
Cosmos
Cosmos
Virgin Territory
Virgin Territory
Through Deaf Eyes
Through Deaf Eyes
Nightline
Nightline
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
History Detectives
History Detectives
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
River Monsters
River Monsters
Latino Americans
Latino Americans
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Sex Change
Sex Change
VH1 All Access
VH1 All Access
Good Eats
Good Eats
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Bloodlands
Bloodlands
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
Apocalypse: WWI
Apocalypse: WWI
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
Taboo
Taboo
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
E! True Hollywood Story
E! True Hollywood Story
In the Fight
In the Fight
National Geographic Wild Special
National Geographic Wild Special
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
VICE News
VICE News
Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door