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 New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Inside the NFL
Inside the NFL
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Autopsy
Autopsy
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
American Experience
American Experience
Nature
Nature
Dateline
Dateline
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Taboo
Taboo
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Cook's Country
Cook's Country
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
20/20
20/20
30 For 30
30 For 30
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
A Season With
A Season With
Killing Fields
Killing Fields
Snapped
Snapped
A Football Life
A Football Life
Years of Living Dangerously
Years of Living Dangerously
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Lockup
Lockup
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Beyond
Beyond
How It's Made
How It's Made
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
River Monsters
River Monsters
American Masters
American Masters
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Diesel Brothers
Diesel Brothers
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
Vice
Vice
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Intervention
Intervention
Nightline
Nightline
Most Evil
Most Evil
Scorned: Love Kills
Scorned: Love Kills
The First World War
The First World War
Trapped
Trapped
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Mayday
Mayday
The Code
The Code
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Gangland
Gangland
Blue Collar Millionaires
Blue Collar Millionaires
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
MARS
MARS
Hate Thy Neighbor
Hate Thy Neighbor
Lawless Oceans
Lawless Oceans
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
The War: A Ken Burns Film
The War: A Ken Burns Film
Alien Encounters
Alien Encounters
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
Xploration Earth 2050
Xploration Earth 2050
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
The Staircase
The Staircase
Monarchy
Monarchy
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
Monsters and Mysteries in America
Monsters and Mysteries in America
China's Great Wall
China's Great Wall
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Nellyville
Nellyville
Unwrapped
Unwrapped
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Deadly Sins
Deadly Sins
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
I Survived
I Survived
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Survivorman
Survivorman
Disappeared
Disappeared
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
American Gangster
American Gangster
Shark Week
Shark Week
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Apocalypse: WWI
Apocalypse: WWI
Poldark Revealed
Poldark Revealed
Empires
Empires
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
The Universe
The Universe
Good Eats
Good Eats
See No Evil
See No Evil