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
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Dateline
Dateline
Intervention
Intervention
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
20/20
20/20
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Genealogy Roadshow
Genealogy Roadshow
Snapped
Snapped
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
I Survived
I Survived
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Child Genius
Child Genius
Nature
Nature
How It's Made
How It's Made
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Good Eats
Good Eats
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Nellyville
Nellyville
Disappeared
Disappeared
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Shark Week
Shark Week
American Experience
American Experience
Evil Twins
Evil Twins
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Frontline
Frontline
River Monsters
River Monsters
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Nightline
Nightline
Mayday
Mayday
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Vice
Vice
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Slednecks
Slednecks
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Crime 360
Crime 360
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
American Gangster
American Gangster
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
How The States Got Their Shapes
How The States Got Their Shapes
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Lockdown
Lockdown
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
A Football Life
A Football Life
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Down East Dickering
Down East Dickering
Wild About Animals
Wild About Animals
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
UFO Hunters
UFO Hunters
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Guy's Big Bite
Guy's Big Bite
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Tracks Ahead
Tracks Ahead
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Taboo
Taboo
Virgin Territory
Virgin Territory
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Most Evil
Most Evil
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Lindsay
Lindsay
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
American Masters
American Masters
The Universe
The Universe
Hawking
Hawking
Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life
Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life
The Sixties
The Sixties
The Layover
The Layover
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door