Take Me to the Pilots '10: NBC's 'Outsourced'
[As I've already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: "Outsourced," NBC
The Pitch: "It's 'The Office' in India. Only filmed in Burbank. And racist!"
Quick Response: To be fair, "Outsourced" isn't actually racist. It's xenophobic. Because India is a diverse country of different castes, races and ethnicities and "Outsourced" seems to be superficially ignorant of all of them. Wait. To be fair again, "Outsourced" may not actually be ignorant. It may be be lazy. Very lazy. Offensively lazy. But I guess it comes down to intentionality. Did Ken Kwapis and the "Outsourced" team set out to do a show that's offensive to the world's second largest nation and all of its inhabitants? Probably not. Were they lazy enough to be content with basing pilot punchlines around how much Indian people love cows, how silly it sounds when they they interpret American music with their foreign accents, how hilarious their native names are and the damage that Indian food does to Western digestive systems? Why yes. Yes they were. Is there a perfectly decent sitcom to be made about the culture clash between a stupid, aggressively annoying American forced to manage a call center in India? Almost certainly. But that would have required more nuance than the NBC comedy development department wanted to enforce on this pilot. If the "Outsourced" team had showed any awareness at press tour that their show might be a smidge broad, I'd be willing to accept that sometimes in a pilot, you just rely on shorthand, but they were all steadfast and proud of the work they'd done in the pilot. Well, the pilot is all about a stupid American (Ben Rappaport, not able to overcome the writing) learning that all of his stereotyped preconceptions of India were true. Count me out. And trust me, it really hurts to be so negative about a show that's employing so many Indian actors (most by way of the United States or England) who otherwise might get even less substantive roles, but there you go. The best hope is that one or two of them -- Rebecca Hazlewood and Sacha Dhawan seem like the best bets -- shine despite the material and go on to different, better projects.
Desire To Watch Again: Of course, this is NOT a review. And I'll watch a final version of the pilot before writing a review and, probably, I'll watch a second or third episode just to be fair. I watched three episodes of "Brothers" last year. But my actual *desire* to watch again? Nil. [And I nearly managed to make it through without noting that ethnic caricaturing aside, the most offensive thing about "Outsourced" is that it's airing in the place of "Parks and Recreation." Because that's an outside factor and the show's problems can stand on their own.]
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