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
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Real Sex
Real Sex
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Dateline
Dateline
River Monsters
River Monsters
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
20/20
20/20
30 For 30
30 For 30
Autopsy
Autopsy
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Snapped
Snapped
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Nightline
Nightline
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman
Vice
Vice
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
Intervention
Intervention
How It's Made
How It's Made
Disappeared
Disappeared
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
The Staircase
The Staircase
Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers
I Am Cait
I Am Cait
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Cook's Country
Cook's Country
A Football Life
A Football Life
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
The Eighties
The Eighties
Shark Week
Shark Week
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Wild Life
Wild Life
Nature
Nature
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
I Survived
I Survived
Taboo
Taboo
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Empires
Empires
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Survivorman
Survivorman
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
The Draft
The Draft
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Good Eats
Good Eats
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer
American Gangster
American Gangster
What on Earth?
What on Earth?
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Frontline
Frontline
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Animal Fight Night
Animal Fight Night
See No Evil
See No Evil
Indie Sex
Indie Sex
American Experience
American Experience
The Sixties
The Sixties
Evil Twins
Evil Twins
Meerkat Manor
Meerkat Manor
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Lockdown
Lockdown
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Destination America Presents
Destination America Presents
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
High Profits
High Profits
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Secret Lives of the Super Rich
Secret Lives of the Super Rich
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Scorned: Love Kills
Scorned: Love Kills
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet
Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Port Protection
Port Protection
The Universe
The Universe
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Unwrapped
Unwrapped
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Orangutan Island
Orangutan Island
Platinum Weddings
Platinum Weddings
30 Days
30 Days
Tornado Chasers
Tornado Chasers
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Red Eye
Red Eye
Twisted
Twisted
Theater
Theater
Fat and Back
Fat and Back