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