The Office pushed the boundaries of primetime comedy for nine seasons. Over the years, the program has successfully brought more than a few crude, controversial jokes to TV screens, but one particular episode prompted NBCs legal team to suggest censoring.
Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey of the Office rewatch podcast discussed the Season 6 episode, Body Language, which mainly focuses on the Scranton office trying to determine whether she is interested in dating Michael. However, the cold open shows Michael trying to learn Spanish ahead of his upcoming trip to Cancun. Oscar explains that Michael is having trouble understanding the gendered part of the language.
Oscar responds, displaying two Post-it Notes, one of which depicts a penis, the other of which is a drawing of breasts. Classic Michael. The two men in Michaels office are covered in genitalia Post-it Notes, which include his keyboard, his lamp, his phone, and his Worlds Best Boss mug.
Fischer explained that The Offices line producer Randy Cordray was responsible for drawing a lot of genitalia in various degrees of explicitness for the episode. However, the illustrations, while amateur and humorous, are all censored by NBC.
Randy explained that the process for getting the scene cleared with Standards and Practices was a disaster. They responded by saying, "You can do the Post-it notes, but they must be blurred." After Greg [Daniels] and Paul [Lieberstein] sent over a version to standards and practices, nothing was blurred.
Randy received a memo that said, "Make all Post-its around Michaels' office that have visible breasts and penises drawn on them, including the one on Angela's forehead," and they disagreed. They argued that seeing Michael's crude art was more enjoyable. They believed that the viewer would appreciate the context and not be offended by these drawings.
Fischer claimed that the two went so far as to include the Sistine Chapel in the debate, arguing that it contained more detail than Michaels Post-it notes. Cordray even sent a photo of the Sistine Chapel to NBC for reference.
This was [NBCs] response: We agree that the sketches are silly. We have had this exact issue to address on other programs, and legal is not willing to take the risk and allow this. Please blur the images,' Fischer said.
Fischer explained. That still wasnt the end. They sent a sample of the cold open, finally with the images blurred, and [NBC] wrote back: More blurry. Finally, their second attempt at blurring the Post-its was approved. And that is what you see in the episode.
Greg and Paul, like, became so determined, Kinsey said, it's funny to me.
So for fans who wondered why the Office chose to suppress Michael's Post-it Notes, be advised, the genital drawings would have been displayed in full display if the show-runners had their way.