A non-review of NBC’s new sitcom “Outsourced”

The American television network channel NBC just started airing a television sitcom called Outsourced about a couple of Americans who move to India to run a call-center full of Indians selling novelty items to clients back home in America. I’ve watched the pilot episode and a few others since then.

As you know, I’m a desi. And from my perspective I’ve thought for while about writing a review about the sitcom. But I’d like to perform a simple experiment instead. Read the following sentences on racial and cultural stereotypes and think about them.

Indians don’t have any food. They are dirty. They defecate on the street.

Americans are unemployable. They are materialistic. They deal drugs on the street.

Some Indians and Americans certainly do fit these stereotypes. But definitely not all of them.

So do any of these stereotypes offend you? Are you indifferent to them? Do you just laugh off as ignorant nonsense?

Now look at the cartoon below which I created. You might find it funny as an Indian or as an American. Or as an Indian or as an American you might find it deeply offensive.

I do not know where you’re coming from. Perhaps, your job got shipped to India. Perhaps, you felt insulted when someone treated you differently because of the color of your skin. I am not saying it doesn’t happen. And I can definitely try to empathize with you either way regardless of your nationality or ethnicity.

I also understand your viewpoint if you laugh at others. I admire you if you can laugh at yourself.

But keep repeating the stereotypes you find funny now over and over again. Don’t you find them kind of annoying now? Like uninspired stupor masquerading as humorous banter?

That is my problem with Outsourced.

© Text, 2010-2012, Anirban

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13 thoughts on “A non-review of NBC’s new sitcom “Outsourced”

  1. I feel that NBC has created a foundation of stereotypes for Outsourced because that is what viewers here in America can instantly relate to. I am highly disappointed by this show too.

    Yet, I can see the writers trying to treat it like any other office comedy. The characters are slowly being developed.

    Finally, this show has a massive socio-political connotation simply because it gives America a face to attach to the voice of the individual on the other side of the 1800 number. It’s humanizing outsourcing!

    • Harsh, thanks for reading.

      I have no problem with the premise, the casting, or the location (India is in South California). It is the lack of effort.

      Will it humanize outsourcing? I think people will read into it what they want to see.

  2. I watched 15 mins of the pilot. The first joke when the American lands in India was about arranged marriage and not living with parents. Yes, because in America, friends or parents never set up their friends or children to meet the opposite sex, right? Blind dates is just an urban legend.

    • Well said. There is bound to be some mention of the usual stereotypes, but overall it is a waste of an excellent concept.

      Cross-cultural interactions are the bread-and-butter of many talented comedians. It is a shame that we have to be subjected to the same trite observations over and over again.

  3. I think the approach is not mean-spirited. The fact is that we still live in a world where some lose their jobs and others live with work place weirdo’s !!!

    BTW … 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.

    • I agree. I do not think it is mean-spirited at all. I just think it is a lazy attempt. (And it is getting a bit better now).

      For the record, I enjoyed the movie of the same name, because for all it faults it had some pretty funny moments.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. I will request you to consider writing a review on The Big Bang Theory . Raj (the Indian character) is also a heavily stereotyped Indian. But if- ja rote tar kichu to bote- is true, I feel horrified about how Indian males are perceived in America! That apart I absolutely love the show.

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