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
Dateline
Dateline
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
20/20
20/20
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Top 100 Hip Hop Hits
Snapped
Snapped
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
Intervention
Intervention
I Survived
I Survived
American Experience
American Experience
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Lindsay
Lindsay
American Hoggers
American Hoggers
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Fight Girls
Fight Girls
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead
History Detectives
History Detectives
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole
Hairy Women
Hairy Women
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Frontline
Frontline
Sex Change
Sex Change
The Story Of The Jews
The Story Of The Jews
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
PBS Specials
PBS Specials
Nature
Nature
When Sharks Attack
When Sharks Attack
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Moonshot
Moonshot
A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Nightline
Nightline
Ultimate Survival Alaska
Ultimate Survival Alaska
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
Cosmos
Cosmos
American Gangster
American Gangster
How It's Made
How It's Made
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Biography
Biography
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Chicagoland
Chicagoland
River Monsters
River Monsters
Diggers
Diggers
POV
POV
One Born Every Minute
One Born Every Minute
Disappeared
Disappeared
Flower Boy Next Door
Flower Boy Next Door
Real Ghosts
Real Ghosts
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Metal Evolution
Metal Evolution
Long Way Down
Long Way Down
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
A Football Life
A Football Life
Pure History
Pure History
Alaska State Troopers
Alaska State Troopers
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Crime 360
Crime 360
Taboo
Taboo
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Unsealed: Alien Files
Unsealed: Alien Files
Super Skyscrapers
Super Skyscrapers
Jurassic Fight Club
Jurassic Fight Club
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Vice
Vice
NOVA scienceNOW
NOVA scienceNOW
Shark Week
Shark Week
America The Story of Us
America The Story of Us
Years of Living Dangerously
Years of Living Dangerously
Red Eye
Red Eye
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Too Fat For 15: Fighting Back
Dirty Jobs
Dirty Jobs
Wicked Attraction
Wicked Attraction
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Secrets of War
Secrets of War
Ghostly Encounters
Ghostly Encounters
Surviving Disaster
Surviving Disaster
Good Eats
Good Eats
Nature
Nature
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Six O'Clock News
Six O'Clock News
Doomsday Preppers
Doomsday Preppers
Planet Earth
Planet Earth
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs
Lockup
Lockup
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team