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
Intervention
Intervention
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
The Universe
The Universe
Dateline
Dateline
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
River Monsters
River Monsters
30 For 30
30 For 30
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Vice
Vice
Good Eats
Good Eats
Slednecks
Slednecks
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Epic Meal Empire
Epic Meal Empire
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
American Gangster
American Gangster
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
20/20
20/20
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Child Genius
Child Genius
Frozen Planet
Frozen Planet
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
I Survived
I Survived
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Snapped
Snapped
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
See No Evil
See No Evil
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Nature
Nature
Nellyville
Nellyville
Frontline
Frontline
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
High Profits
High Profits
The Moaning of Life
The Moaning of Life
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Shark Week
Shark Week
The Staircase
The Staircase
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Nightline
Nightline
Boston Med
Boston Med
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
How It's Made
How It's Made
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Horizon
Horizon
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
American Experience
American Experience
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Twisted
Twisted
Crime 360
Crime 360
Bang Goes The Theory
Bang Goes The Theory
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Prototype This!
Prototype This!
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
A Football Life
A Football Life
How It Works
How It Works
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Disappeared
Disappeared
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All
Survivorman
Survivorman
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies
Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Cryptid: The Swamp Beast
Cryptid: The Swamp Beast
Tornado Alley
Tornado Alley
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Taboo
Taboo
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Lockdown
Lockdown
Mayday
Mayday
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Behind the Music Remastered
Behind the Music Remastered
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Outrageous Births
Outrageous Births
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster