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
Hard Knocks
Hard Knocks
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
60 Minutes
60 Minutes
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Snapped
Snapped
Real Sex
Real Sex
Dateline
Dateline
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
20/20
20/20
Indie Sex
Indie Sex
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
River Monsters
River Monsters
Nightline
Nightline
Intervention
Intervention
Taboo
Taboo
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
A Football Life
A Football Life
30 For 30
30 For 30
My Crazy Ex
My Crazy Ex
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Autopsy
Autopsy
I Survived
I Survived
How It's Made
How It's Made
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
Cook's Country
Cook's Country
Nellyville
Nellyville
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Shark Week
Shark Week
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
The Planets
The Planets
The Hunt with John Walsh
The Hunt with John Walsh
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Modern Marvels
Modern Marvels
The Apostles' Creed
The Apostles' Creed
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Million Dollar American Princesses
Million Dollar American Princesses
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer
Women Behind Bars
Women Behind Bars
American Experience
American Experience
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks
Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks
Snapped: She Made Me Do It
Snapped: She Made Me Do It
Killer Kids
Killer Kids
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Haunted History
Haunted History
Original Sin: Sex
Original Sin: Sex
The Staircase
The Staircase
Black Market
Black Market
Gangland
Gangland
Last Chance U
Last Chance U
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
The Vanishing Women
The Vanishing Women
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
I Am Cait
I Am Cait
Investigation Discovery Specials
Investigation Discovery Specials
Giada in Italy
Giada in Italy
Platinum Weddings
Platinum Weddings
Animal Fight Night
Animal Fight Night
Revelation: The End of Days
Revelation: The End of Days
Ghost Hunters International
Ghost Hunters International
Frontline
Frontline
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Lockdown
Lockdown
Strange Sex
Strange Sex
Vice
Vice
Ancient Aliens: Special Edition
Ancient Aliens: Special Edition
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns
Mighty Ships
Mighty Ships
Lost Tapes
Lost Tapes
American Masters
American Masters
Ghosts of Shepherdstown
Ghosts of Shepherdstown
Destination Truth
Destination Truth
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal
Oddities
Oddities
The Vineyard
The Vineyard
Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet
Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet
The Unauthorized Story of Saved By The Bell
The Unauthorized Story of Saved By The Bell
Extreme Ghost Stories
Extreme Ghost Stories
NASA's Unexplained Files
NASA's Unexplained Files
Alien Encounters
Alien Encounters
Survivorman
Survivorman
Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers
Nightmare Next Door
Nightmare Next Door
Most Evil
Most Evil
Wild West Alaska
Wild West Alaska
How It's Made: Dream Cars
How It's Made: Dream Cars
Dead or Alive
Dead or Alive
The Perfect Murder
The Perfect Murder
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
World's Toughest Fixes
World's Toughest Fixes
Good Eats
Good Eats
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole