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
Dateline
Dateline
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
20/20
20/20
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Snapped
Snapped
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Intervention
Intervention
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Art in the Twenty-First Century
Art in the Twenty-First Century
Slednecks
Slednecks
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
I Survived
I Survived
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Cheerleaders
Cheerleaders
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
How It's Made
How It's Made
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Nature
Nature
A Football Life
A Football Life
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Killing bin Laden
Killing bin Laden
Disappeared
Disappeared
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Shark Week
Shark Week
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Good Eats
Good Eats
River Monsters
River Monsters
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Nightline
Nightline
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
American Experience
American Experience
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
After The First 48
After The First 48
Frontline
Frontline
Crime 360
Crime 360
Vice
Vice
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Mayday
Mayday
Motives and Murder
Motives and Murder
Years of Living Dangerously
Years of Living Dangerously
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
E! True Hollywood Story
E! True Hollywood Story
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
The Staircase
The Staircase
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
Orangutan Island
Orangutan Island
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Navy Seals: Untold Stories
Navy Seals: Untold Stories
World War II In Colour
World War II In Colour
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
Down East Dickering
Down East Dickering
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Taboo
Taboo
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
American Gangster
American Gangster
Hawking
Hawking
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
Survivorman
Survivorman
Eaten Alive
Eaten Alive
Virgin Territory
Virgin Territory
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Lindsay
Lindsay