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In some mockumentary shows, like 'The Office', the mockumentary format is diegetic, because there is actually a documentary being filmed in-universe. In others, the mockumentary format is extra-diegetic, and simply a story telling device allowing us to see the thoughts of the characters, like a modern-day soliloquy; see, eg, 'Modern Family'.

In 'Parks and Rec', is there an in-universe documentary being filmed, or is it just the format of the program behind the fourth wall?

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  • WRT Modern Family it kinda was: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/35589/…
    – BCdotWEB
    Dec 18, 2021 at 17:19
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    Thank you! I learnt a new word today! :)
    – Harsh
    Dec 19, 2021 at 4:46
  • Near-duplicate of Who is filming the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department? from the "related questions" sidebar. Dec 19, 2021 at 15:36
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    @Harsh it's a great term. I'm used to hearing it regarding a soundtrack or music, where any music the audience hears is happening in-universe. (Commonly shown when the actor turns off a radio and the soundtrack cuts off as well.)
    – BruceWayne
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:59
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    @BruceWayne ah! that's a good example and widely encountered one too! Reminds me of Baby Driver; the movie essentially revolved around what you said!
    – Harsh
    Dec 20, 2021 at 0:23

2 Answers 2

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There is only reason to assume it's non-diegetic.

  • The motivation for filming is never disclosed.
  • The characters never interact with what would be an in-universe film crew - they only address them (thus, rather, the viewer through this particular technique).
  • The 'film crew' is everywhere it needs to be, and present at any time something interesting happens, including during private situations that cannot be rehearsed.

(I can't think of specific examples right now, but will update when I remember.)

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    Is The Office unique in that the existence of the documentary was revealed (in the finale)? I've always assumed that the reason we never see the crew in most mockumentary shows is that either the characters are told not to address them, or those interactions are all edited out.
    – Barmar
    Dec 19, 2021 at 17:11
  • @Barmar the existence of the documentary is revealed early on. Also in the last season there is a plot with a member of the documentary crew(Bryan i think)
    – Alator
    Dec 19, 2021 at 23:23
  • @Barmar, also in the Office where people were avoiding the filming crew on purpose, and long distance microphones were used to overhear the conversation.
    – user28434
    Dec 20, 2021 at 18:04
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In the pilot episode, Ron asks "did you guys get a grant to do this" ('this' referring to the filming), which as far as I can remember is the only moment in the show where the actual camera crew is referenced. Besides that, @Joachim is absolutely correct.

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  • I remember that, now that you mention it :) That's a strange exception to what seems to be a very rigid rule for the rest of the series.
    – Joachim
    Dec 21, 2021 at 14:21
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    One other instance is in the episode "End of the World": Lucy kisses Tom, and a moment later Tom turns to a camera, points, and says "You saw that", then turns to another, points, and says "You saw that, too." Dec 21, 2021 at 19:04
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    @KenBellows Right! I'm starting to think it's neither diegetic or non-diegetic, just a "camera crew ex machina" sort of thing :)
    – Joachim
    Dec 21, 2021 at 21:58

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