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
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Intervention
Intervention
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
30 For 30
30 For 30
River Monsters
River Monsters
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Dateline
Dateline
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
20/20
20/20
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Snapped
Snapped
The Staircase
The Staircase
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
I Survived
I Survived
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Nature
Nature
Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies
Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Frontline
Frontline
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Disappeared
Disappeared
Crime 360
Crime 360
How It's Made
How It's Made
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
American Experience
American Experience
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All
Survivorman
Survivorman
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
Good Eats
Good Eats
Shark Week
Shark Week
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Taboo
Taboo
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Vice
Vice
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Nightline
Nightline
American Gangster
American Gangster
The Universe
The Universe
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Rock Icons
Rock Icons
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Lockup: Raw
Lockup: Raw
Patton 360
Patton 360
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
A Football Life
A Football Life
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Hangar 1: The UFO files
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
American Masters
American Masters
Inside Nature's Giants
Inside Nature's Giants
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Building Alaska
Building Alaska
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
Human Weapon
Human Weapon
Sex Change
Sex Change
Warriors
Warriors
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Lindsay
Lindsay
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers
Long Way Round
Long Way Round
Nellyville
Nellyville
Gangland
Gangland
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Lottery Changed My Life
Lottery Changed My Life
Meerkat Manor
Meerkat Manor
Lockdown
Lockdown
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
Tsunami: Caught on Camera
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Bigfoot: The New Evidence
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
Years of Living Dangerously
Years of Living Dangerously
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
On The Run Tour: Beyonce and Jay Z
Cities of the Underworld
Cities of the Underworld
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Great Performances
Great Performances
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
HBO Documentary Films
HBO Documentary Films
Greatest Tank Battles
Greatest Tank Battles
How It Works
How It Works
Dogfights
Dogfights
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Child Genius
Child Genius
Monkey Life
Monkey Life
The Lincoln Assassination
The Lincoln Assassination
TED Talks: Chew On This
TED Talks: Chew On This
Tracks Ahead
Tracks Ahead
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
World's Greatest Mysteries
World's Greatest Mysteries
Unsung Hollywood
Unsung Hollywood
The Sixties
The Sixties
Scientific American Frontiers
Scientific American Frontiers
Being: Liverpool
Being: Liverpool
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
Your Inner Fish
Your Inner Fish
Red Eye
Red Eye
30 Days
30 Days
History Detectives
History Detectives
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
House of Horrors: Kidnapped
House of Horrors: Kidnapped
Haunting Australia
Haunting Australia
Life After People: The Series
Life After People: The Series
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Oddities
Oddities
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
The Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase
Six O'Clock News
Six O'Clock News
Through Deaf Eyes
Through Deaf Eyes
Scorned: Love Kills
Scorned: Love Kills
The Houstons: On Our Own
The Houstons: On Our Own
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
After The First 48
After The First 48
Autopsy
Autopsy
Jurassic Fight Club
Jurassic Fight Club
Farrah's Story
Farrah's Story
Escape to Chimp Eden
Escape to Chimp Eden
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Wives with Knives
Wives with Knives
World's Fattest Man
World's Fattest Man
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Angry Planet
Angry Planet
Science of Stupid
Science of Stupid
Legend of the Superstition Mountains
Legend of the Superstition Mountains
See No Evil
See No Evil
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Aryan Brotherhood
Aryan Brotherhood
The New Recruits
The New Recruits
TED Talks: Video & Photo Mojo
TED Talks: Video & Photo Mojo
Combat Tech
Combat Tech
Behind The Mask
Behind The Mask
Makers
Makers
Mugshots
Mugshots
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
Super Skyscrapers
Super Skyscrapers
The Moaning of Life
The Moaning of Life
Megalodon: The New Evidence
Megalodon: The New Evidence
UFO Hunters
UFO Hunters
HowStuffWorks
HowStuffWorks
Mail Call
Mail Call
Orangutan Island
Orangutan Island
Wild
Wild
Monsterquest
Monsterquest
Naked Science
Naked Science
The World's... and Me
The World's... and Me
World Wide Web
World Wide Web
Duke 91 & 92: Back to Back
Duke 91 & 92: Back to Back
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
Ocean Mysteries
Ocean Mysteries
Discoveries...Argentina Collection
Discoveries...Argentina Collection
County Jail
County Jail
The Naked Archaeologist
The Naked Archaeologist
Death Row Stories
Death Row Stories
I Dated a Psycho
I Dated a Psycho
A Bite of China
A Bite of China
In Search of Aliens
In Search of Aliens
Platinum Weddings
Platinum Weddings
I'm Alive
I'm Alive
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
The Blue Planet
The Blue Planet
Unwrapped
Unwrapped
The War: A Ken Burns Film
The War: A Ken Burns Film
Facing Evil
Facing Evil
Most Evil
Most Evil