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
Shark Week
Shark Week
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Dateline
Dateline
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
20/20
20/20
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Snapped
Snapped
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Intervention
Intervention
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
I Survived
I Survived
American Experience
American Experience
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Frontline
Frontline
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
Red Rock Serenade
Red Rock Serenade
Cosmos
Cosmos
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Apocalypse: WWI
Apocalypse: WWI
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Nature
Nature
American Gangster
American Gangster
River Monsters
River Monsters
Virgin Territory
Virgin Territory
How It's Made
How It's Made
Crime 360
Crime 360
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Lindsay
Lindsay
VICE News
VICE News
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
History Detectives
History Detectives
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Disappeared
Disappeared
Nightline
Nightline
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
VH1 All Access
VH1 All Access
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
A Football Life
A Football Life
Killing bin Laden
Killing bin Laden
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Psychic Investigators
Psychic Investigators
Sex Change
Sex Change
Anna Nicole Smith
Anna Nicole Smith
Red Eye
Red Eye
Lockdown
Lockdown
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
National Geographic Wild Special
National Geographic Wild Special
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Biography
Biography
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Good Eats
Good Eats
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
How It's Made: Dream Cars
How It's Made: Dream Cars
Bloodlands
Bloodlands
Twisted
Twisted
Caught on Camera
Caught on Camera
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts