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Quick Hits: Pilot Season — “Outsourced”

September 30th, 2010

It’s Pilot season in America. There certainly seems to be more shows that at least have the potential to be intriguing. There’s the can’t miss in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the LOST clone in NBC’s The Event, the waiting-to-see-if-it-can-deliver in AMC’s The Walking Dead and a host of other intriguing new shows. I may not drop thoughts on all of them, but I will try to give my initial thoughts on some of those that catch my eye. On Tuesday, I reviewed NBC’s The Event. Today is NBC’s Indian sitcom, Outsourced.

Outsourced will hopefully be cancelled quickly and buried alongside the E.T. Atari games in the desert.

This will be nice, short and sweet. Despite knowing there would be a high likelihood that I would find the show Outsourced offensive, I bit the bullet and watched NBC’s latest addition to its Thursday sitcom, fest. The basic premise is a remake of the Josh Hamilton movie of the same name. The difference is that, for all the manners in which the film Outsourced was, at times, charming and lighthearted, the television series is stale and almost purely offensive.

Click on through for more.

In both the series and the movie, the basic plot line is that a novelty products catalog company manager finds that his company has outsourced their call center to India. The manager is told he must move to India and manage the call center, at least temporarily, before he can be transferred to another position in the United States. That’s not terribly far fetched and the comedy in both plays on the gap between American and Indian cultures. But in the series, in particular, the comedy draws largely on the very worst of the plot line – namely xenophobia, stereotypes of Indian individuals and societies, and anger over globalization.

Politics aside, the humor is downright crass. I admit I laughed at a couple of the benign jokes, but even on those I felt bad doing so. That, ultimately, is why I want to see this show fail.

Ricky Gervais brought the British breed of ironic and uncomfortable humor to the United States with the UK version and US version of The Office. At least in theory, Outsourced seeks to tie into that same style of uncomfortable comedy, but unlike The Office this show is just offensive. If you can imagine the worst parts of the “Diversity Day” episode of The Office, expand those out to twenty-two minutes and you have this show. Even to the extent that there are funny jokes, they are coming at the expense of good taste and, to be honest, the sub-continental version of a minstrel show.

As much as I wish there were more shows featuring minority actors, this isn’t the way to do it. Pass on Outsourced.

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