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
I Am Cait
I Am Cait
Dateline
Dateline
Shark Week
Shark Week
Intervention
Intervention
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
20/20
20/20
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Snapped
Snapped
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
The Staircase
The Staircase
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
I Survived
I Survived
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Cook's Country
Cook's Country
30 For 30
30 For 30
Nature
Nature
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Inside: Pixar
Inside: Pixar
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Nellyville
Nellyville
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
River Monsters
River Monsters
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
Crime 360
Crime 360
How It's Made
How It's Made
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
American Experience
American Experience
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Nightline
Nightline
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Frontline
Frontline
Unsung Hollywood
Unsung Hollywood
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Child Genius
Child Genius
First Peoples
First Peoples
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
American Gangster
American Gangster
Vice
Vice
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
A Football Life
A Football Life
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
The Universe
The Universe
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Good Eats
Good Eats
Taboo
Taboo
Epic Meal Empire
Epic Meal Empire
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Africa
Africa
Disappeared
Disappeared
Six O'Clock News
Six O'Clock News
Psychic Investigators
Psychic Investigators
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Cities of the Underworld
Cities of the Underworld
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Dogfights
Dogfights
Top Gear: Ambitious But Rubbish
Top Gear: Ambitious But Rubbish
Survivorman
Survivorman
Human Weapon
Human Weapon
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Watercolour Challenge
Watercolour Challenge
Tracks Ahead
Tracks Ahead
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Deceived
Deceived
Tornado Alley
Tornado Alley
Apocalypse: WWI
Apocalypse: WWI
Haunting Australia
Haunting Australia
The Story of India
The Story of India
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Diggers
Diggers
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Tai Chi for Arthritis: 12 Lessons with Dr Paul Lam
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Megalodon: The New Evidence
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea