When it comes to learning history through television programming, viewers have several options available to them. First, and perhaps most obviously, there is The History Channel; however, over time, their programming has shifted from a focus on specifically telling history to reality programming that is informative about history. Another channel, such as The Smithsonian Channel, also provides informative programming that teaches viewers the history of certain places, items and people. Beyond these two channels, there are plenty of other options available to viewers.
Aside from these more readily apparent choices, modern television viewers can even find historically themed programming on other unexpected channels. Television channels, which offer historical-drama programming, provide perhaps one of the most underrated forms of learning history. These programs achieve this by showing particularly unique, if fictional perspectives on often well-known historical events. Ultimately this enables modern viewers to better understand a given historical event from a previously unconsidered perspective.
An example of a historical drama that can provide interested viewers with a new or at least rarely documented perspective on well-known historical periods or events would be the recent remake of Roots. In this particular program, viewers are shown the story of a man, Kunta Kinte, and his later descendants, as he is taken from his home in Africa by other Africans and forcibly brought to the Americas. The story continues with his life as a slave and his descendant's lives as slaves. Throughout the mini-series, viewers are shown a perspective that is often left out of most history textbooks in enough detail to sympathize, understand their perspectives, and lives. The result of such programming is that viewers are given the opportunity to learn more than just dates and facts but to understand these events in the context of a human life, its suffering and happiness.
The most readily apparent channel to turn on when looking for history programming that is informative is The History Channel. The reality programming that can be found at most hours of the day tends to involve, at least to some extent, historical education within the reality programming available. For example, in the show "Pawn Stars," viewers are given a mini-history lesson about the items brought in to the shop. Similar to this method is the show "American Pickers," where the hosts dig through people's possessions and discuss the value and history surrounding particular items selected. While these shows are not entirely focused on the history of individual items or parts of items, the information that can be gleaned from them tends to be quite informative for the viewer.
For the viewer looking to learn more about history through television programming it is necessary to decide what kind of history they wish to learn. More accurately it becomes necessary for the viewer to decide whether they wish to learn about specific items, locations, people or different perspectives as different television channels offer different aspects of history for them to learn. While channels like The History Channel offer mini-series that show unexpected perspectives, they also offer reality programming that includes detailed explanations of the specific history of objects and even some people.