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
Dateline
Dateline
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Intervention
Intervention
Snapped
Snapped
20/20
20/20
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
How It's Made
How It's Made
I Survived
I Survived
Slednecks
Slednecks
Shark Week
Shark Week
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
River Monsters
River Monsters
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
The Staircase
The Staircase
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Nature
Nature
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
30 For 30
30 For 30
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
Vice
Vice
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Nellyville
Nellyville
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Oddities
Oddities
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
High Profits
High Profits
Frontline
Frontline
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Build It Bigger
Build It Bigger
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Monsters and Mysteries in America
Monsters and Mysteries in America
World's Toughest Fixes
World's Toughest Fixes
Good Eats
Good Eats
Nightline
Nightline
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Facing Evil
Facing Evil
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
American Experience
American Experience
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
House of Horrors: Kidnapped
House of Horrors: Kidnapped
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
The Pecos League
The Pecos League
The Sixties
The Sixties
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Dark Matters: Twisted But True
Dark Matters: Twisted But True
Pure History
Pure History
NASA's Unexplained Files
NASA's Unexplained Files
Tornado Alley
Tornado Alley
Survivorman
Survivorman
American Gangster
American Gangster
A Football Life
A Football Life
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Africa
Africa
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Disappeared
Disappeared
Taboo
Taboo
Animals Gone Wild
Animals Gone Wild
Epic Meal Empire
Epic Meal Empire
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
This American Life
This American Life
Outrageous Births
Outrageous Births
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil