"The Vow is just the latest to tap into the surge of popularity for the docuseries format, which was spurred by true-crime works like The Jinx and Making a Murderer (as well as the podcast Serial) and the cultural-history series O.J.: Made in America," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "In recent years, the form has flourished. In crime and thrillers, there’s Wild Wild Country, The Keepers, and Errol Morris’s Wormwood. In food docuseries, on Netflix alone, a proliferation: Chef’s Table, Ugly Delicious, Salt Fat Acid Heat, Cooked, Street Food. In just 2020: the wildly popular sports series Cheer, the excellent medical docu-series Lenox Hill, the true crime–cum–biography I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Chef’s Table: BBQ, and, inescapably, Tiger King. Documentaries have always carried with them an air of legitimacy and highbrow sheen. But the arc of the docuseries in the past five years — the way a show like Tiger King was able to consume all the cultural oxygen this spring — reminds me of what happened to TV dramas over the past two decades. The distinction between a network drama and one made for a premium-cable outlet (called, variously, 'prestige TV,' 'quality TV,' 'TV that’s actually a movie,' and 'TV that’s better because it’s not really TV') came down to narrowly defined specialness. The latter was more expensive, it often employed dense storytelling and playful cinematography, it demanded all of the viewer’s attention, and there were fewer episodes. A similar pattern underlies the explosion of the docuseries, which emerged from the world of documentary filmmaking but also from a television landscape primed by decades of reality TV."