For a show I would consider more adult audience appropriate I find it strange they censure images, paraphernalia and language.

Is this for dramatisation or is this censorship just to make it more PG friendly?

For example a painting that was used in an episode had pixelization.

  • Could you be a little more specific what exactly they censor and how they do it? Some examples maybe?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 11:00
  • 4
    American networks! Whatyougonnado?
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 11:09
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    Well, seeing how Parks and Recreation is filmed in a deliberately comedic mockumentary style (as much as I know, at least), there might be a more insightful answer than just "that's censorship for ya, dude!".
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 12:07
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    @NapoleonWilson Indeed, they may be deliberately setting up these situations just to add censorship as some form of satire. I'm also interested to see what official sources can be dug up on this.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 13:08
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    Just another comment, in one episode Ann has pack of candy that is shaped like the male appendage, the actual word is spoken by Ann and is not censored but the bag of candy is.
    – Jared
    Commented Jul 30, 2017 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


Parks and Recreation is an NBC production. NBC is one of the big three American broadcasting companies. ABC, NBC, and CBS produce television shows to air on their networks, which are geared towards being aired for "free"... broadcast over the airwaves to be picked up by televisions that still use antenna-based receivers (digital now, but still...).

This means that the shows produced by NBC to be aired by NBC on all their affiliate stations across the United States, have to abide by current censorship rules. One big issue in the censorship game on American Television... is nudity.


After Justin Timberlake exposed Janet Jackson's breast during a live performance at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, a moral panic occurred, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tightened its indecency rules due to public pressure.

So. Why are boobs censored out of an NBC produced television show? Because the FCC says that you have to censor them. Why are they there in the first place? Because even censored, you know what they are. The biggest reason for censoring them? Because they are probably not even "nude". A common enough technique is to have an actor or image almost nude, and then just pixelate where their private parts would be, to imply that the character is nude. In reality, the actor might just be wearing a flesh colored thong, or bikini, or underwear. When pixelated, the viewer can't tell and only assumes the character is nude.

Am I saying that the painting behind her isn't actually showing a nude female torso? Nope. I'm just saying that it doesn't matter if it actually is a nude torso. All that matters is that we think it is nude, because of the censorship. Again... why the censorship? That's how the FCC says it has to be.

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    I am firmly in the camp that all the censorship was done for comedy effect to fit in with the mockumentary style. If they knew they were going to have to beep out swear words they just wouldn't have included them in the script otherwise.
    – Darren
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 9:03
  • Doesn't being in that camp mean you believe they had a choice to censor or not censor the material? I'm sure they knew that if they included material that had to be censored, it would be funny. That doesn't change the fact that it was censored because the FCC says it has to be.
    – Bon Gart
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 21:16
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    @BonGart: "Doesn't being in that camp mean you believe they had a choice to censor or not censor the material?" Not necessarily. They may have been required to censor it if it was shown, but they could have still chosen to include it regardless, because it fits as a reference to the mockumentary.
    – Flater
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 12:25

The show was filmed as if it were a documentary about the government, specifically following the Parks and Recreation team. This is why there are a lot of times where the cast look directly at the camera, to remind us that this is supposed to be us watching them through a camera crew.

With that said, in regards to the censorship, things happen in life, unexpected things. Sometimes, without warning, there's someone walking naked down the street for no apparent reason. When documentaries are filmed, those filming intend to capture everything they can to capture the realness of the situation, whether it's believable that it would happen unscripted or not.

By incorporating adult themes into the show, and censoring them, the show is achieving a couple of things. First, it adds a comedic level, because it's funny to see random things censored on screen when, as an adult, you know it's silly for that particular thing to be censored. Second, it alludes to the fact that this documentary is being shown on some cable channel, making the documentary part of it go a little deeper and allows you to get drawn in a little bit more and invest in the characters.

In short, the censorship parts weren't accidental, they were added to add a comedic level and to add some realism to the show.

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