The fall's worst pilot traffics mostly in lazy Indian stereotypes and stale punchlines
Remember all of the rambling I did in my summer TV show reviews about how there are right and wrong ways to introduce characters?
I'll point you in the direction of NBC's "Outsourced" for how a poor character introduction can do irreparable damage to a show which probably would have been horrible either way.
In our opening scene, we meet Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport), fresh out of the management training program at Mid America Novelties. He arrives in the company's Kansas City offices and finds them evacuated, all the employees laid off and the call centers moved to India. His boss tells him that not only does he still have his job, but he's being bumped up to vice president. The only catch? He has to go to India to do his job.
Now, Todd is 25 years old with $40,000 in student loans (not that much, but whatever). We never hear mention of any person ties -- family, friends, girlfriend -- he has in the area. He's discovered that every single person in his department *but* him is suddenly out of work and he's being sent to a foreign country. And his reaction is to make a horrified and disgusted face as if this were the worst thing he could ever be forced to do in the history of the universe. He begins to make a grand and determined stand that he'd rather be unemployed than take an executive position in India, but finally, still grimacing and now resigned, he accepts this horrible fate.
Leaving aside how smarmy and unlikable Rappaport is in this moment -- he never recovers -- it's a choice that sets up everything to follow from "Outsourced."
On one imaginary hand, you could have a show about a young American worker who's so grateful to have a job and so intrigued by the idea of moving to a foreign country that he embarks to India determined to eagerly experience a foreign country and having a professional adventure while he's still young enough to enjoy it. Maybe he doesn't love everything he discovers there, but he's constantly having his expectations challenged and he knows that when he returns to the States in a few years, he'll have the sort of stories and experiences you can't pay for. Some weeks he could laugh at the Indians. Some weeks they could laugh at him. Occasionally the writers would have to do a bit of research to learn something about the country they were setting their show in. I would watch this show.
Or you could have "Outsourced," where a sour-faced American initially reacts to India with repulsion and travels abroad to discover that every stereotype that he harbored about Indian culture in his sheltered, insular upbringing was exactly correct, that Indians are, indeed, a strange and weird people with food that gives normal people (white people) diarrhea.
This character introduction is not why "Outsourced" is the fall's worst new show, but it's a tiny piece at the tip of the iceberg of why "Outsourced" is the fall's worst new show.
More after the break...