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
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
20/20
20/20
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Snapped
Snapped
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Intervention
Intervention
I Survived
I Survived
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
American Experience
American Experience
History Detectives
History Detectives
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Lindsay
Lindsay
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Moonshot
Moonshot
American Gangster
American Gangster
Nature
Nature
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
Sex Change
Sex Change
Frontline
Frontline
Crime 360
Crime 360
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Shark Week
Shark Week
Cosmos
Cosmos
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Super Skyscrapers
Super Skyscrapers
How It's Made
How It's Made
Nightline
Nightline
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
River Monsters
River Monsters
Caged
Caged
Biography
Biography
Disappeared
Disappeared
Diggers
Diggers
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
POV
POV
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Good Eats
Good Eats
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
A Football Life
A Football Life
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
Taboo
Taboo
Red Eye
Red Eye
Ghostly Encounters
Ghostly Encounters
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Vice
Vice
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Mayday
Mayday
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
Pure History
Pure History
Nature
Nature
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
After The First 48
After The First 48
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life