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
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
20/20
20/20
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Snapped
Snapped
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Intervention
Intervention
I Survived
I Survived
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Shark Week
Shark Week
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
How It's Made
How It's Made
Disappeared
Disappeared
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
A Football Life
A Football Life
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
River Monsters
River Monsters
Latino Americans
Latino Americans
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
American Experience
American Experience
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Frontline
Frontline
American Gangster
American Gangster
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
The Naked Archaeologist
The Naked Archaeologist
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Surviving Evil
Surviving Evil
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Nightline
Nightline
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
After The First 48
After The First 48
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Nature
Nature
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Crime 360
Crime 360
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Through Deaf Eyes
Through Deaf Eyes
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Good Eats
Good Eats
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Unwrapped
Unwrapped
Global Voices
Global Voices
Lockdown
Lockdown
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Autopsy
Autopsy
Apocalypse: WWI
Apocalypse: WWI
Deadly Affairs
Deadly Affairs
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Alien Encounters
Alien Encounters
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Red Rock Serenade
Red Rock Serenade
The Royals
The Royals
Lindsay
Lindsay
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
History Detectives
History Detectives
Caught on Camera
Caught on Camera
Taboo
Taboo
Nature
Nature
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence