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 Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Real Sex
Real Sex
A Football Life
A Football Life
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Ghosts of Shepherdstown
Ghosts of Shepherdstown
Empires
Empires
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
20/20
20/20
Sex On//
Sex On//
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
American Experience
American Experience
Dateline
Dateline
Snapped
Snapped
Autopsy
Autopsy
Years of Living Dangerously
Years of Living Dangerously
Sexo Urbano
Sexo Urbano
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Intervention
Intervention
Nightline
Nightline
30 For 30
30 For 30
Taboo
Taboo
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
MARS
MARS
Haunted History
Haunted History
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Theater
Theater
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
River Monsters
River Monsters
The War: A Ken Burns Film
The War: A Ken Burns Film
NASA's Unexplained Files
NASA's Unexplained Files
Nature
Nature
The Staircase
The Staircase
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Kindred Spirits
Kindred Spirits
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
How It's Made
How It's Made
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
American Masters
American Masters
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
Xploration Earth 2050
Xploration Earth 2050
This American Life
This American Life
Most Evil
Most Evil
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
I Survived
I Survived
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
CBS News: JFK Assassination
CBS News: JFK Assassination
Nellyville
Nellyville
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Dead Silent
Dead Silent
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Great Performances
Great Performances
The First World War
The First World War
Secrets of the Universe
Secrets of the Universe
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Xploration Outer Space
Xploration Outer Space
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Scorned: Love Kills
Scorned: Love Kills
Wild Life
Wild Life
Ocean Mysteries
Ocean Mysteries
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Really Wild Animals
Really Wild Animals
My Life is a Telenovela
My Life is a Telenovela
The Moaning of Life
The Moaning of Life
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
The Sixties
The Sixties
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
The Case Of: JonBen
The Case Of: JonBen
American Gangster
American Gangster
The Pecos League
The Pecos League
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Total Bellas
Total Bellas
Our Night Sky
Our Night Sky
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Extreme Ghost Stories
Extreme Ghost Stories
Deadly Sins
Deadly Sins
Diesel Brothers
Diesel Brothers
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
Project Grizzly
Project Grizzly
Animals Gone Wild
Animals Gone Wild
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise
Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise