Don’t Be a Hater Says Outsourced Writer

is.time.up.outsourced.jpg Will Outsourced, the NBC TV comedy set in a Mumbai call center and cast with more desi actors than Hollywood can shake a feather at, come back for another season? That’s the question up in the air for the moment. Geetika Tandon Lizardi makes her case for the show by preaching to the unconverted–people who think Outsourced is offensive, racist or condescending–in her LA Times article.

Lizardi says she’s one of the “five South Asian writers on the show telling stories that often come straight from our personal experiences.” Her credentials include living in Mumbai where she helped her husband run a call center, and she shares a couple of examples of those straight-from-personal-experience story lines.> An early episode featuring the “Indian head bobble” came from my non-Indian husband’s confusion in communicating with his call center staff. A sequence about Todd, the American boss, and his difficulties boarding an Indian train was inspired by a story another Indian writer shared about his grandmother, who spent a lifetime struggling to push her way onto crowded Indian trains, then employed the same tactics on her first visit to America, elbowing whole families to secure her spot on the monorail at Disneyland. (LAT)

It seems like she’s emphasizing the background of these episodes and the writing team to combat the criticism that the ignorance portrayed at times on the show is racist.

These stories made us laugh in the writers’ room. Yet when we highlight cultural differences on the show, we risk being called offensive. One online comment vehemently accused us of racism for the following line: Todd: “I didn’t know you guys celebrated Valentine’s Day.” But ignorance of a foreign culture isn’t racist; it’s just ignorance.

In other words, the jokes are coming from a place of love and affection from a team including desi writers making fun of their own, so chill out and enjoy. I doubt this argument makes a difference to people who were offended enough by the pilot and its jokes like the one referencing a character’s caste to never tune in again. Where it might make a difference is with the crowd who likes watching Outsourced but feels guilty about it.

go.gupta.jpgLizardi mentions that there’s been significant support for the highly DVR’d show, including on Twitter after episodes air. I’ve seen some of that in the form of pleas for Guptees and tweets by fans of the character played by Parvesh Cheena. Personally, I can’t imagine wanting to watch again if he wasn’t on the show, so if Outsourced is renewed I feel it’ll be in no small part due to the simultaneously annoying and endearing ham Gupta.

Will Outsourced be renewed for another season? Should it be? And for any Outsourced haters out there, did Lizardi’s article change your mind?

Update: A Seattle radio station interviewed Lizardi. “Microsoftie turned sitcom writer defends ‘racist’ show” has links to audio.

76 thoughts on “Don’t Be a Hater Says Outsourced Writer

  1. “Many second generation Hindu men hop over to India for the summer and come back with brides. “

    This does happen but I think its happening less so as India continues to boom. Girls are clued in to the kind of lives they will have in the west, lonely and isolated. The wealthier girls are opting to go with men that will settle locally to retain their lifestyle. I spoke to three doctors, 30 plus who had gone back to the desh looking for brides, no luck. Now if doctors can’t get a bride in India I mean geez who can?

    • three doctrs didn’t find brides? I find that hard to believe!

      Just recently a friend with only a BA and working in IT came back with a pretty, very young Hindu bride. Another one in his 40s (divorced) came back with bride in her 20s. That couple is South Indian christian.

      Maybe your three doctors are not serious about arranged marriage?

      Sometimes desi-americans go for arranged marriage routine after getting disappinted with with goris here. Then they go to the desh to find “better” girls. usually they are not serious adn look at biodata and meet girls but don’t agree to marriage. Desi-American men have long list of demands wife should fit. I have a friend who wants modern but traditional girl, religious but not too religious, will be educated and work but also be full time mother, be urban but have rural home values. It’s crazy. I was like, just look for a nice girl who will not have too man babies and take care of you when you are old. lol, A lot of wealthy indian girls are having one child only.

      But you’re right that wealthier family girls marry in India now that they have more options with desi men. However urban wealthy Indians are a small percentage. Most indians are still rural and poor so brides are still plenty especially because families don’t wnt to feed and educate their girls.

  2. @ New India: you know, I’ve noticed that 1st gen Desi’s in the West are more “traditional” than folks actually living in the Desh. In other words, India has continued to progress since they’ve moved here but in their minds, India has remained the same as when they left it 20+ years ago. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of Indian women are repulsed By 1st Gen Indian-American guys going over there and bride-hunting. Sure there are millions of poor women in S.Asia who would do anything for a better quality of life, but middle class and upper class Indians probably will shun this practice soon enough, I would guess.

  3. ” I have a friend who wants modern but traditional girl, religious but not too religious, will be educated and work but also be full time mother, be urban but have rural home values. It’s crazy”

    that’s it…the doctors did have a notion of the ‘better girl’ ..the image of illusionary perfection you described above….I told them they were foolish, but sometimes people have to make their own mistakes to learn.

  4. @ John Jacobi

    Really? Really? Germans speaking German is not a stereotype, you’ve gotta be kidding me if that’s your example. By pointing out the media’s damaging effect in race relations, I am not spewing ‘conspiracy theories’; this is something that has been proven over and over again, and hundreds of books and essays have been written on this.I would think that it is common sense, anyone without a degree in sociology can see, The media DOES dictate how races perceive one another, and never have these results been positive. I’m done discussing this with someone who doesn’t understand that A) there is a difference between stereotyping nationalities and stereotyping races B) there is a difference between stereotyping and cultural guidance (when I was working at a hospital, we were given guides on how to go about treating people of different ethnicities, for example, Native Americans distrust the medical system in US for many reasons so they are not as willing to speak about their problems until you slowly gain some trust) C) that there are different levels of racism, stereotyping/joking being the most basic–where elements of hatred are present but invisible and emerge in subtle ways.

    Arranged marriages are a chauvinist practice because it is based on the notion that women need husbands for financial security, and it is also not a coincidence that is practiced in cultures that don’t differentiate between women and servants/free prostitutes. Why else are men who have ‘good’ jobs sought out so often in the process? Even educated women who get arranged marriages perpetuate this nonsense because many of them end up popping out a few babbies (yes, babbies) and quit their jobs, and you know the rest. This is not to say western marriage is free from sexist roots , but it certainly has ‘evolved’ into something more of a (status) symbol of “love”, generally shoved down people’s throats in order to maintain a capitalist culture.

  5. The chances of success are 50%. Which means that you might as well toss a coin and you would get the same success rate. I was trying to counter the argument that you really really get to know someone by dating them for a while.

    I have to disagree with this; it’s a logical fallacy that a 50% divorce rate means that dating is as pointless as tossing a coin. You’re forgetting the fact that the usefulness of dating varies from individual to individual; some go through 4 or more divorces, so their “success rate” is far less than from a coin toss. For others who happen to be more mature and know what to look (out) for in a partner, dating turns out to be a pretty darn good way of knowing someone; many people do have a 100% “success rate” because they used their time dating to properly evaluate their partners. For this latter group of individuals, you would be doing them a serious disservice by suggesting that they might as well toss a coin instead of dating.

    (No offence to those who have been divorced before; I do realise that sometimes it happens through no fault of their own, e.g. partner turns out to be gay etc.)

  6. @Fenri “By pointing out the media’s damaging effect in race relations, I am not spewing ‘conspiracy theories’; this is something that has been proven over and over again, and hundreds of books and essays have been written on this.I” You mention hundreds of books but have not given one example. You keep talking of harmed race relations but do not give one example.I do not deny that some media barons have used race for their benefit. But to imply that all Media including the creators of Outsourced are the same would be stereotyping don’t you think? Something you would never do because it is such a terrible thing

    @Fenri “Why else are men who have ‘good’ jobs sought out so often in the process?.” As opposed to the west where nobody cares whether the man has a good job?

  7. Jewish comedians self-deprecate all the time. Are they harming race relations? What really harms race relations is oversensitivity, IMO.

  8. I didn’t give examples because I stated it was common sense. I apologize for assuming you were capable of a quick google search. Here is one, it focuses on African Americans, but it’s main point is relevant: http://www.yale.edu/ypq/articles/oct99/oct99b.html “Media have divided the working class and stereotyped young African-American males as gangsters or drug dealers. As a result of such treatment, the media have crushed youths’ prospects for future employment and advancement. The media have focused on the negative aspects of the black community (e.g. engaging in drug use, criminal activity, welfare abuse) while maintaining the cycle of poverty that the elite wants.” There are certainly tons more links, I would have to take some time to find the ones that I thought were written very well that I’ll post later I guess. “But to imply that all Media including the creators of Outsourced are the same would be stereotyping don’t you think? Something you would never do because it is such a terrible thing”

    You gotta fucking kidding me. Look up the definition of stereotyping, and then go crazy with your keyboard. For fuck’s sake, the media is not your friend, especially if you aren’t white, I don’t know why that’s so difficult to understand.

    Also, Jews aren’t a race. Seeing that they have the acceptable skin color, anything they do isn’t going to seem too out of the ordinary. “What really harms race relations is oversensitivity” Yeah, non-white people just need to stfu and instead complaining about being seen as inferior just need to accept it. Thanks though, I’m always amused when Indians compare themselves to Jews.

  9. “I’m always amused when Indians compare themselves to Jews.”

    As am I, Jews would never be caught being the uncle toms most Indians are.

  10. @Fenri “The media have focused on the negative aspects of the black community (e.g. engaging in drug use, criminal activity, welfare abuse) while maintaining the cycle of poverty that the elite wants.”" Here the media is reporting the news as it sees it and gets blamed for perpetuating the stereotype. The media focuses on the negative aspects of all people white or black to sell news. And Outsourced does not just focus on the negative aspects of Indians, does it? But lets accept this as it is. The Cosby show (another media product) is said to have greatly improved peoples perception of Black people because it humanized them. It did so well in improving relations that recently Aasif Mandvi suggested a Muslim version(albeit in jest). There you have your counter example.

    @Fenri “Look up the definition of stereotyping” Maybe you should look it up. Your understanding of the definition seems to be extremely narrow and race related. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype. From the wiki “Social psychologists believe that mental categorizing (or labelling) is necessary and inescapable.” . See I was right – all stereotyping is not bad.

  11. So I guess most of you in the last two days have absolutely nothing to add about the show “OUTSOURCED”. you know, the topic of this blog entry?

    Is Diedrich Bader’s character offensive to white Americans?

    Comparing black shows to this is a fallacy. This show is about foreigners, not indian americans. Making a few good natured jokes at the liberty of another country’s people is a time honored comedic device in almost every culture. Is nationalistic prejudice better than racism? I don’t know. But let’s make the correct analogies when comparing the offensive aspects of this show with other show.

    Besides, they show the Indian manager of the IT call center in the top floor as more sauve and sophisticated than Ben, the white American. Even if the indian guy is the “bad guy” in the episode, at least it is not at the expense of the depiction of his intelligence.

  12. @ John Jacobi

    I never said anything about the news, which is a different realm of media altogether. Since you brought it up, I’m guessing you don’t realize that men of color are overrepresented as terrorists/criminals/drugdealers and it is rare when a white guy is portrayed as such. For example, a recent poll found that a majority of Americans believe most, if not all terrorists are Muslim. This is because the media fails to report the 96% of terrorist acts that weren’t committed by Muslims and exaggerates the ones that are.

    “And Outsourced does not just focus on the negative aspects of Indians, does it?”

    I never said it did. I said portrayals of race in the media, no matter how positive they seem have negative effects on race relations.

    “The Cosby show (another media product) is said to have greatly improved peoples perception of Black people because it humanized them.”

    Just because Katie Couric said it, doesn’t make it true. Prejudice against black people still persists. The Cosby Show was also about a middle to upper middle class black family, which is not at all an accurate or relatable depiction of the majority of black families in the US.

  13. ” I said portrayals of race in the media, no matter how positive they seem have negative effects on race relations.” I would really love it if you could give me an example where positive portrayals of race in the media had negative effects. The example you gave has negative portrayals.

    “Just because Katie Couric said it, doesn’t make it true. Prejudice against black people still persists. The Cosby Show was also about a middle to upper middle class black family, which is not at all an accurate or relatable depiction of the majority of black families in the US.” That wasnt Katie Courics original Idea. It is a widely held view. Of course it did not solve the race problem, all I said was that it improved race relations. Your contention was that the media did nothing to improve race relations.

    ” Since you brought it up, I’m guessing you don’t realize that men of color are overrepresented as terrorists/criminals/drugdealers and it is rare when a white guy is portrayed as such.” Yes. It is true that nowadays brown people are portrayed as the bad guys. But these thing follow a certain fashion trend and are not necessarily the result of a conspiracy to make colored people look bad. Growing up, i remember that the Russians were popular bad guys. So were the Italian Mafia. Brown people were rarely seen.

  14. Okay, so I finally saw the Holi episode b/c of this post. Guys, it sucked. I’m sorry. The only good part (the paintball shooting) was a total ripoff from Community…. I’m so done with this show. I think my kid siblings enjoy it, but it’s just not my cup of chai.

  15. Outsourced is a marvelous show, with talented actors. They are so funny showing the cultural diferences and the mistakes about them, that I hope they renew the series for a second season. Every episode is a surprise, because we don´t know what aspect of the common life will be explored with humor. There are already too many tragedies s on TV today. Good comedies like Outsourced are necessary too!!