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Television: Genre-Specific Resources

A guide to researching topics related to television.



Animated shows are created through artwork like drawings, claymation, or CGI. They are generally for children, but there are several shows that use animation to present satirical, sexual, violent, crude, or other adult themes. Examples include:

SpongeBob SquarePants

The Simpsons

Adventure Time



making murderer

Documentaries show real-life events, often in shocking or controversial ways. Docudramas are similar but retell the events using actors and may add embellishments. Examples include:

Making a Murderer

The People v. OJ Simpson



Reality TV


Reality shows allegedly portray people in unscripted situations, but they are usually based on an unorthodox or unusual premise and seek to create drama. Some involve competitions where people can win prizes for certain skills or for outlasting other contestants. Examples include:


Project Runway

The Voice



mod fam

Comedies are generally presented in half hour format and feature the wit, situations, and hijinks of a recurring set of characters. Examples include:

New Girl

How I Met Your Mother

Modern Family




Educational programs are often designed to teach children early literacy, math, and social skills, but there are several popular adult education shows about science, technology, history, and other subjects. Examples include:


How It's Made

Sesame Street


Variety Show


The Variety Show is made up of several different types of acts, including but not limited to musical performances, sketch comedy, and acrobatic stunts. This type of show has faded from prominence since the 1980s, but some do still exist. Examples include:

Saturday Night Live

The Carol Burnett Show

Hee Haw




Dramas feature serious, powerful, emotional, or shocking developments between characters. They can be told in story arcs or in stand-alone episodes. Examples include:

Grey's Anatomy

Law and Order: SVU



Game Show

price is right

In a game show, contestants compete for cash or prizes, usually by exhibiting some physical skill or mental capacity. Contestants are generally different each week. Examples include:

The Price is Right


Family Feud