“Outsourced” – Something to Look Forward To?

After much fanfare, NBC debuts a new fall comedy tonight with a decidedly Desi theme – Outsourced. Here in the Bay Area, it’s on NBC @ 9:30pm. The show’s premise?

Now, for most mutineers who grew up in the post-Simpsons/Apu age, the idea of an entire comedy focused on Desi’s isn’t a theme we particularly look forward to. However, the NYT got a sneak-peak of the show and published a pretty complimentary and hopeful review –

Back in superpower times, cultural clashes took place on this side of the ocean and the joke was on the foreigners…”Outsourced,” which begins on Thursday on NBC and is based on a 2006 movie with the same title, reverses the premise to place an American naïf out of his depth in the developing world.

He is stunned to find a sacred cow wandering freely on the street and even more amazed to learn that his new employees don’t understand a reference to “The Bad News Bears.”..In other words, “Outsourced” could be perfectly awful.

The fact that it’s neither embarrassing nor deeply offensive — once it gets rolling, the show is actually quite charming — is a credit to the cast and the writers. The show mocks Todd’s blithe, well-meaning ignorance as much as it lampoons Indians trying to sell catalog items like fake vomit and “jiggle jugs.”

…South Asians are no longer an exotic minority that needs to be sheltered from comic stereotypes; for one thing, there is no easily recognized stereotype. The Indians, Pakistanis and other characters with roots on the subcontinent vary widely — and it’s hard to think of a show that doesn’t have one.

Archie Panjabi won an Emmy this year for her role as a sexy, enigmatic private investigator on “The Good Wife.” Adhir Kalyan plays an acerbic, Oxford-educated personal assistant on “Rules of Engagement.” Mindy Kaling is a boy-crazy singleton on “The Office,” while Aziz Ansari is a sleazy small-town bureaucrat on “Parks and Recreation.” Sendhil Ramamurthy, who was a geneticist on “Heroes,” is now playing a playboy C.I.A. operative on “Covert Affairs.” And so on.

How will it turn out? Well, I’ll give it a chance, DVR it and post some thoughts tomorrow

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42 thoughts on ““Outsourced” – Something to Look Forward To?

  1. “neither embarrassing nor deeply offensive”

    What a high bar. Not watching. Maybe I’ll flip over to it during the commercial breaks on what I’m actually watching.

  2. From reviews I’ve read, I’m not optimistic. Tim Goodman, the TV critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, and the two TV reviewers at hitfix.com (Alan Sepinwall and Daniel Fienberg), who I think are pretty good, pretty much trash “Outsourced.” Here is Fienberg’s review.

    Based on that, I wonder if the NY Times was watching the same show.

  3. From reviews I’ve read, I’m not optimistic. Tim Goodman, the TV critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, and the two TV reviewers at hitfix.com (Alan Sepinwall and Daniel Fienberg), who I think are pretty good, pretty much trash “Outsourced.” Here is Fienberg’s review.

    Based on that, I wonder if the NY Times was watching the same show.

  4. i predict he falls in love with the chick on the right. her parents won’t approve so the sneeking around lasts about 2 seasons. then his parents visit india and guess who coming to dinner at her parents house. big dosas are served and a temple of doom moment ensues. nobadys getting along until the grandmoher unexpectantly gets up and gives a “i have a dream” speech.” then its off to tiffanys for the ring.

    the end

  5. I’m scared of a backlash. People on NBC.com are really hating on the idea of making a show about “the loss of American jobs.” And they are actually making some “good” points about abuses and level of service. How do I reconcile my love of competence with the fact that I’m desi? How, mutiny? How are we supposed to process the whole Commonwealth Games thing? I need me some desi apologetics. I want to believe the Gospel…I do!

    Signed, Depressed about Delhi

  6. Good God this show is horrible. That cow…it didn’t even look Indian lol . Seriously how are they going to do a full season on this horrible concept. It’s not even offensive, its just an awful show.

  7. Saw the episode – I’d give it a gentleman’s C.

    Althought it may be a premature comparison- “Parks & Recreation” started out pretty un-impressively, but after a few weak episodes, went on to become absurdly funny.

    • Yeah, my hopes were dashed most expertly, too. Somehow, the lines lifted from the movie just fell flat. That Dane Cook-y dweeb sucks as an actor. I had to change it after 5 minutes. Mindy Kaling’s corny self-deprecation just before was was genius in comparison.

      • Take heart in the fact that this show has absolutely no audience. Normal people are going to be put off by the lack of humor and xenophobia. Meanwhile, people who normally go for that kind of low-brow crap are going to be too busy shouting “THEY TOOK IZ JORBBBBB!!” to tune in.

        And then Parks and Recreation and The Office will come back on so Aziz Ansari and Mindy Kaling can restore the honor of the Indian people.

  8. I don’t see how they can get 2 entire seasons from this theme. They are so cloistered/confined with the background story. Folks – mentally prepare yourself for your non-desi friends to make inside jokes about this to you with the assumption that you know what they’re talking about.

    Finally, I hope if anything that this show increases understanding, awareness, and empathy towards Desis, unlike that junkyard-dog money lender from Time magazine.

  9. I saw it..

    there were Indians, there were white people, there was the Knight Rider Bhangra… but.. the show really wasn’t that funny. I suppose I’ll continue to watch out of obligation. But.. meh.

  10. Weak sauce. I am not offended by the concept, just by the bad writing. I want it to last just long enough for the brown actors to get some experience and get picked up by other shows/movies.

    • Abhi… bad writing= the exact storyline from the movie “Outsourced”. I saw the movie and few years back, and many of the scenes and dialogues are straight from the movie without any change what-so-ever.

      I guess this is the new era of either take a movie and make a t.v. show, or take a Britsh t.v. show make it again with American actors.

      First, it is oh-so-obvious that they are not in India– as someone else pointed out– That’s not even an Indian cow! I mean, for serious. And the green screen behind the auto-rickshaw was so obviously… a green screen. Also, the whole “random people walking by outside the office window” seems to highlight the “I don’t know much about Indian architecture/office building set up.”

      Small things, yes but come’on. Most of this stuff was small and made me roll my eyes– there was actually only one moment where I got actually upset… “I hired her to fire her, she is the wrong caste anyways.” Is the random comment by assistant manager-wanna-be-manager. WTF?? Ha,ha! Those backward Indians and their caste!!! Isn’t it funny? a.) no b.) no c.) since when do you need to be a certain caste to work at a call center. I say nay.

      All of this complaining out of the way… I still think I’ll watch it again… with the high hopes that it will improve and get funnier… I can only hope.

  11. I hope that once they get the obvious jokes out of the way, they can reach for something better.

  12. Let’s not forget that any time they wanted to drive home how really weird and other-worldly it is they made sure to play the obligatory Panjabi MC. No hate towards him, but does he have a contract in Hollywood to only use his music to denote anything South Asian, or do they only have his CD in their libraries?

  13. I’ll admit it: I really enjoyed the movie. And I was hoping to enjoy the show, too – but the delivery was flat, the stereotypes tedious. I hope it’s able to move on from this.

  14. I like the concept — it has a lot of potential for humor — but the first episode just wasn’t that funny. Hopefully it will get better, but I just don’t see how it’s going to survive on network TV.

  15. Hi, I actually found it funny, though not fall off my chair funny, and reasonably tasteful. The most funny parts are when Indians try to enact those American parts. The show if anything ridicules American ignorance and insensitivity in dealing with other people and cultures( i.e the ‘hat joke’ and the American redneck’s negative view of Indians). There’s not all that much( except for the needless reference to caste) that could offend or put off Indians or persons of Indian origin. Give the show a chance, while not praising it to the sky!

  16. Don’t know where to begin- the parts I disliked the most were where they had the Indian characters reinforcing American stereotypes by stating that the cow is holy or making statements about caste or by talking with funny accents. And the already budding romance with that Australian chick- seems so predictable…

  17. Mediocre show. I don’t mind some fun at the expense of stereotypes. Still, some of these jokes are outdated by a decade. And what is with these Indian origin actors wo have so much trouble faking an Indian accent? THe accents are awful. There are some genuine indian accents that can be funny.

    The tone is an odd mix of offensive(though not offensive enough to make me want to protest) and patronizing to the Indian characters. The only characters that have some promise are the overly talkative insecure guy and the mousy lady. Even then, the good moments are very fleeting.

    The biggest offense of the show is the mediocrity of the writing.

  18. You know what I found really offensive, even beyond the lame cow-out-of-pasture jokes and mediocre writing? The fact that an actor of Indian origin can’t pronounce “Ramayana” properly. I appreciate that Sacha Dhawan didn’t grow up in India, and the Ramayana may not have been part of his cultural upbringing or whatever. But good grief, don’t they have writing/dialogue consultants on the show who can fix the accent/pronunciation issues?

    Failsauce.

  19. The “Simpsons” gave Desis – especially Indians – a really bad rep. That show was so off the mark it was beyond disgusting – nevertheless, given how naive Americans are about the rest of the world (+other cultures), the same (non Asian) Americans actually came to associate Indians with 711, curry, brown skin, and that funny accent. If you’ve seen the Big Bang Theory, its only slightly better, e.g. Raj is actually portrayed as intelligent. I haven’t seen “Outsourced” yet, but the last thing I want is to see some show about Indians produced by directors who are totally clueless about Indian culture. I don’t want to have to go to work and hear dumb jokes that stem from the show. Let’s be realistic – they (white producers) wouldn’t dare make a show that negatively portrayed Blacks. Granted, Indians are not the most aesthetically pleasing group of people to inhabit the planet, but still – if Americans don’t particularly care for Indian culture (which I’m pretty sure is the case), why make a show based on stereotypes? Plus the stereotypes start vanishing when the generations increase. Personally, I think Indians should band together and protest against this racist bigoted scrapheap being passed off as “comedy.”

  20. To me, the accents sounded pretty authentic. What’s funny is I’ve heard a number of Indians complain about the accents of Indians on TV/movies, saying they don’t sound accurate, but they do. What I mean to say is when I hear the average Indian open his/her mouth and speak in English, it sounds pretty much like the accents I hear on Outsourced, or other TV shows. Yeah, I know it varies a lot by region and where the person learned English, but still. For example, I’ve heard Indians complain that Russell Peters Indian accent it’s terrible, but to be blunt, these people sound exactly like Russell Peter’s imitation to me. Maybe they don’t realize they sound like that, I don’t know.

    I tuned in for the premiere but I don’t think I’ll watch again. The writing was kind of lame to be honest, not really that funny at all.

  21. “Americans actually came to associate Indians with 711, curry, brown skin, and that funny accent.”

    What’s wrong with associating Indians with brown skin and curry? Most South Asians have brown skin, and it’s not like curry came from the Eskimos. Same reason Irish people are associated with white skin and potatoes. And obviously most immigrants have accents of some sort, don’t know why you’re acting like it’s wrong. If an American moved to India and tried speaking Hindi, he’d probably have a funny accent too.

    “Granted, Indians are not the most aesthetically pleasing group of people to inhabit the planet”

    Speak for yourself, please : )

    “Personally, I think Indians should band together and protest against this racist bigoted scrapheap being passed off as “comedy.”

    It didn’t seem racist at all to me, but I agree calling it a “comedy” is pushing it – it wasn’t exactly funny. The Office is a good NBC show if you’re looking for a comedy.

    • “If an American moved to India and tried speaking Hindi, he’d probably have a funny accent too. “

      I can vouch for that. I DO have a funny accent when I speak Hindi. I try hard, I really do. But sometimes when I talk, people stare at me blankly… like “whoa what is THAT?” even though I am know I am speaking grammatically correct Hindi.

      Accents are accents. We all got ‘em. And I have heard some pretty hilarious mimicking of American accents by my friends in India.

  22. I’m going to watch the show and give it a chance. I heard some news about this new show Outsourced. Thanks for posting the blog entry. I will check it out.

  23. I thought the second episode was hilarious and the jokes were more original this time. I’m rooting for this to succeed. Who cares is the accents are not authentic. Thats not the point of the show.