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
Dateline
Dateline
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Lindsay
Lindsay
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
20/20
20/20
Intervention
Intervention
Cosmos
Cosmos
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Snapped
Snapped
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
Cryptid: The Swamp Beast
Cryptid: The Swamp Beast
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Nature
Nature
I Survived
I Survived
River Monsters
River Monsters
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
Frontline
Frontline
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Evil Twins
Evil Twins
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Independent Lens
Independent Lens
Being: Liverpool
Being: Liverpool
American Experience
American Experience
Crime 360
Crime 360
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
The Most Extreme
The Most Extreme
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Monsterquest
Monsterquest
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
How It's Made
How It's Made
The Ghost Inside My Child
The Ghost Inside My Child
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Wild Africa
Wild Africa
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Latino Americans
Latino Americans
American Masters
American Masters
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
A Football Life
A Football Life
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
The Universe
The Universe
Mail Call
Mail Call
Nightline
Nightline
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Red Eye
Red Eye
Destroyed in Seconds
Destroyed in Seconds
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
God in America
God in America
Down East Dickering
Down East Dickering
WWE The Attitude Era
WWE The Attitude Era
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
History Detectives
History Detectives
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Inside Nature's Giants
Inside Nature's Giants
Super Skyscrapers
Super Skyscrapers
Pure History
Pure History
Nerve Center
Nerve Center
Taboo
Taboo
Unusual Suspects
Unusual Suspects
Dogfights
Dogfights
After the Attack
After the Attack
Licence to Drill
Licence to Drill
Brain Fitness
Brain Fitness
The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents
The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents
Countdown to Apocalypse
Countdown to Apocalypse
New York Originals
New York Originals
The Reagan Presidency
The Reagan Presidency
The Planets
The Planets
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Mayday
Mayday
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
The Buddha
The Buddha
Guns, Germs and Steel
Guns, Germs and Steel
The Ascent of Money
The Ascent of Money
American Gangster
American Gangster
Combat Tech
Combat Tech
Gangsters: Faces of the Underworld
Gangsters: Faces of the Underworld