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
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
I Am Cait
I Am Cait
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Intervention
Intervention
Dateline
Dateline
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Snapped
Snapped
Shark Week
Shark Week
20/20
20/20
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
River Monsters
River Monsters
Nellyville
Nellyville
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
The Staircase
The Staircase
30 For 30
30 For 30
I Survived
I Survived
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Crime 360
Crime 360
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Six O'Clock News
Six O'Clock News
How It's Made
How It's Made
A Football Life
A Football Life
Nature
Nature
Unsung Hollywood
Unsung Hollywood
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Bear Attack!
Bear Attack!
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Disappeared
Disappeared
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Survivorman
Survivorman
Nightline
Nightline
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Tornado Alley
Tornado Alley
Lockup
Lockup
Frontline
Frontline
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
American Gangster
American Gangster
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Gangland
Gangland
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Human Weapon
Human Weapon
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
Autopsy
Autopsy
American Experience
American Experience
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
The Universe
The Universe
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Epic Meal Empire
Epic Meal Empire
UFO Hunters
UFO Hunters
Oddities
Oddities
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Digging for the Truth
Digging for the Truth
History Detectives
History Detectives
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Watercolour Challenge
Watercolour Challenge
Outlaw Bikers
Outlaw Bikers
Lindsay
Lindsay
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
World's Toughest Fixes
World's Toughest Fixes
Clash of the Gods
Clash of the Gods
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Empires
Empires
Warships
Warships
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
The Most Extreme
The Most Extreme
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life