Documentary & Biography TV Shows

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
The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard
The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard
Dateline
Dateline
The Staircase
The Staircase
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
30 For 30
30 For 30
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
The Tommy Edison Experience
The Tommy Edison Experience
Snapped
Snapped
World's Toughest Drive
World's Toughest Drive
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Nature
Nature
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
A Football Life
A Football Life
Autopsy
Autopsy
Black History Month
Black History Month
20/20
20/20
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Intervention
Intervention
How It's Made
How It's Made
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
I Survived
I Survived
Nightline
Nightline
River Monsters
River Monsters
Indie Sex
Indie Sex
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Would You Rather...
Would You Rather...
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
American Experience
American Experience
I Am Cait
I Am Cait
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Unearthing Ancient Secrets
Unearthing Ancient Secrets
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Shadow Hunters
Shadow Hunters
Real Sex
Real Sex
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
BBC Six O'Clock News
BBC Six O'Clock News
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
American Gangster
American Gangster
Shark Week
Shark Week
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Gangland
Gangland
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Disappeared
Disappeared
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Million Dollar American Princesses
Million Dollar American Princesses
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
The Universe
The Universe
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Lockup
Lockup
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Cook's Country
Cook's Country
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
This is Life with Lisa Ling
This is Life with Lisa Ling
What on Earth?
What on Earth?
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Frontline
Frontline
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Taboo
Taboo
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
After The First 48
After The First 48
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Orangutan Island
Orangutan Island
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Sex Change
Sex Change
CNN Special Report
CNN Special Report
Survivorman
Survivorman
Good Eats
Good Eats
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
County Jail
County Jail