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
20/20
20/20
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Snapped
Snapped
30 For 30
30 For 30
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
I Captured the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
I Captured the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Capturing the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
Capturing the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Nightline
Nightline
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
I Survived
I Survived
How It's Made
How It's Made
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
River Monsters
River Monsters
Nature
Nature
The Staircase
The Staircase
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Shark Week
Shark Week
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Unsung Hollywood
Unsung Hollywood
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Disappeared
Disappeared
American Experience
American Experience
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Sex Change
Sex Change
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Frontline
Frontline
Good Eats
Good Eats
American Gangster
American Gangster
Vice
Vice
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Monsters and Mysteries in America
Monsters and Mysteries in America
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Child Genius
Child Genius
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Crime 360
Crime 360
The Gospel of Judas
The Gospel of Judas
Fox News Specials
Fox News Specials
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
HowStuffWorks
HowStuffWorks
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
Dateline Saturday Night Mystery
VICE News
VICE News
America's 58 National Parks
America's 58 National Parks
Lockup
Lockup
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
After The First 48
After The First 48
World Wide Web
World Wide Web
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Taboo
Taboo
National Geographic Wild Special
National Geographic Wild Special
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Genealogy Roadshow
Genealogy Roadshow
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers
Oddities
Oddities
Six O'Clock News
Six O'Clock News
Legend of the Superstition Mountains
Legend of the Superstition Mountains
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Gangland
Gangland
Inside Nature's Giants
Inside Nature's Giants
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
American Masters
American Masters
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
County Jail
County Jail
Duke 91 & 92: Back to Back
Duke 91 & 92: Back to Back
Greatest Tank Battles
Greatest Tank Battles
The Universe
The Universe
Lockdown
Lockdown
Through Deaf Eyes
Through Deaf Eyes
Scorned: Love Kills
Scorned: Love Kills
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Ghostly Encounters
Ghostly Encounters
E! True Hollywood Story
E! True Hollywood Story
HBO Documentary Films
HBO Documentary Films
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Twisted
Twisted
Evil Twins
Evil Twins
World War II In Colour
World War II In Colour
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
Unwrapped
Unwrapped
Human Weapon
Human Weapon
The Sixties
The Sixties
National Geographic Specials
National Geographic Specials
A Football Life
A Football Life
How It Works
How It Works
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Kobe Bryant's Muse
Kobe Bryant's Muse
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Behind The Mask
Behind The Mask
Wild West Alaska
Wild West Alaska
Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl
Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl
Survivorman
Survivorman
Orangutan Island
Orangutan Island
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
The Last Wild Mustangs
The Last Wild Mustangs
Autopsy
Autopsy
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Lindsay
Lindsay
History Detectives
History Detectives
City Confidential
City Confidential
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
My 600-lb Life: Melissa's Story
My 600-lb Life: Melissa's Story
Planet Dinosaur
Planet Dinosaur
Roadtrip Nation
Roadtrip Nation
Nellyville
Nellyville
Coaching Bad
Coaching Bad
Captivated: The Trials Of Pamela Smart
Captivated: The Trials Of Pamela Smart
See No Evil
See No Evil
Biography
Biography
Farrah's Story
Farrah's Story
Dogfights
Dogfights
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
The New York Times
The New York Times
Gangsters: Faces of the Underworld
Gangsters: Faces of the Underworld
Being: Liverpool
Being: Liverpool
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
The Unauthorized Story of Saved By The Bell
The Unauthorized Story of Saved By The Bell
Cities of the Underworld
Cities of the Underworld
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
National Geographic Explorer
National Geographic Explorer
Mayday
Mayday
Kentucky Justice
Kentucky Justice
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
The Layover
The Layover
Sins & Secrets
Sins & Secrets
The Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase
Paul Revere: The Midnight Rider
Paul Revere: The Midnight Rider
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
Earth: A New Wild
Earth: A New Wild
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
Tracks Ahead
Tracks Ahead
World Premiere
World Premiere
Lockup Extended Stay
Lockup Extended Stay
Great Migrations
Great Migrations
Jurassic Fight Club
Jurassic Fight Club
The Great Depression
The Great Depression
Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail
Where Are All the UFOs?
Where Are All the UFOs?
How The States Got Their Shapes
How The States Got Their Shapes
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
Your Inner Fish
Your Inner Fish
In Search of Aliens
In Search of Aliens
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Hangar 1: The UFO files
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
30 Days
30 Days
The World's... and Me
The World's... and Me
Cosmos
Cosmos
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
Red Eye
Red Eye