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
Shark Week
Shark Week
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Dateline
Dateline
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
20/20
20/20
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Intervention
Intervention
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Snapped
Snapped
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
I Survived
I Survived
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
American Gangster
American Gangster
River Monsters
River Monsters
American Experience
American Experience
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
How It's Made
How It's Made
Moonshot
Moonshot
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Killing bin Laden
Killing bin Laden
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Nightline
Nightline
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Lindsay
Lindsay
Nature
Nature
Cosmos
Cosmos
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Crime 360
Crime 360
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
VH1 All Access
VH1 All Access
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
Virgin Territory
Virgin Territory
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
Caged
Caged
A Football Life
A Football Life
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
History Detectives
History Detectives
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Frontline
Frontline
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Nature
Nature
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Red Eye
Red Eye
Disappeared
Disappeared
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Carrier
Carrier
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
Boston Med
Boston Med
Taboo
Taboo
Secrets of War
Secrets of War
Sex Change
Sex Change
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
Good Eats
Good Eats
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
VICE News
VICE News
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
Iconoclasts
Iconoclasts
POV
POV
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Lockup
Lockup
Survivorman
Survivorman