A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary program profiles famous people, including plenty of current celebrities. The show focuses on successful folks and takes a generally positive outlook toward them. While setbacks, family problems, and other struggles are mentioned when appropriate, they're not a major focus as they are in some other celebrity bio programs. Some episodes may feature discussion and/or footage of mildly sexual or violent content, but overall the series is just fine for family viewing with tweens and up (assuming kids are interested).
What's the story?
BIOGRAPHY looks back on the lives of famous historical and popular figures. Earlier episodes in the long-running documentary series tended to feature more serious figures like Pope John Paul II and Diego Rivera, but in recent years the focus has shifted to Hollywood folks like Tom Hanks and Ron Howard. While early episodes were hosted by personalities like Peter Graves and Harry Smith, current installments are guided by voiceover. Interviews with the subject's family and friends -- along with personal photos and film footage -- combine to document each subject's personal history.
Is it any good?
While the show's tone is rather serious, its content errs on the light side. No exposés or incriminating photos here: This is jolly, fluffy background on the stars and history-makers people love. For example, the Ron Howard episode traced his life from his birth into a theater family to his days on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days to his present-day directing career. Howard's wife, Cheryl (his high school sweetheart!), gave viewers a sense of what was going on in Howard's head when he was trying to break into the directing field, while Henry Winkler, Andy Griffith, and Don Knotts all offered their impressions of Howard from his early days to the present.
While most Biography episodes focus on a single person, some installments look at a group -- like the cast of The Brady Bunch or fictional entities like The Phantom. For viewers with a particular interest in a famous person, these profiles can help round out your impression and offer tidbits of information that you might not already know. But people looking for a hard-hitting analysis of a person's life and contribution to society will have to look elsewhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about biographies. What would your biography look like? What aspects of your life would your profile focus on? What would you like to include, and what would you like to leave out? How complete a picture do you think this show paints of famous folks' lives? How do you think producers choose their subjects?