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
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
20/20
20/20
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Capturing the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
Capturing the Cup, ICC Cricket World Cup
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Snapped
Snapped
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Child Genius
Child Genius
Genealogy Roadshow
Genealogy Roadshow
Good Eats
Good Eats
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
I Survived
I Survived
Nature
Nature
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
How It's Made
How It's Made
American Experience
American Experience
Vice
Vice
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Frontline
Frontline
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Shark Week
Shark Week
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Disappeared
Disappeared
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Mayday
Mayday
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
River Monsters
River Monsters
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
American Gangster
American Gangster
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Wild West Alaska
Wild West Alaska
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Unsung Hollywood
Unsung Hollywood
The Layover
The Layover
The Universe
The Universe
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Crime 360
Crime 360
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
James May's Toy Stories
James May's Toy Stories
Hawking
Hawking
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Lindsay
Lindsay
Being: Liverpool
Being: Liverpool
Nightline
Nightline
Nellyville
Nellyville
The Sixties
The Sixties
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Slednecks
Slednecks
Earth: A New Wild
Earth: A New Wild
Human Weapon
Human Weapon
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Ghostly Encounters
Ghostly Encounters
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Red Eye
Red Eye
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Taboo
Taboo
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
After The First 48
After The First 48
Tracks Ahead
Tracks Ahead
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
Sex Change
Sex Change
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Hairy Women
Hairy Women