It appears NBC is really trying to rival ABC with the most diversity in their casting. At least, that is the only reasonable explanation for the green light for their new sitcom Outsourced.
Last night The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills hosted their annual Fall TV Preview Party and Screening for NBC, and they chose Outsourced of all of their new programming to highlight front and center with a panel with the show’s cast and creators. But as charming and well-meaning as those real life people may be, the reel life people they portray are still full of stereotypes.
See how Outsourced compares to NBC’s other new comedies here.
Outsourced follows a young business up-and-comer, Todd (Ben Rappaport), who gets transferred to India to head up a call center branch of the American novelty items company at which he works. Being young and eager to please (and let’s face it, just still excited to have a job in this terrible economy), he takes it. And that was probably the reasoning behind these actors’ accepting of the roles on a show that treads the line between offensive and just plain hokey.
The group surrounding Todd seem to be character actors, but it’s hard to tell if that is their trade by choice or because they are playing caricatures instead of characters. There is Parvesh Cheena, who plays a well-meaning but talkative salesman with whom no one else in the company wants to get stuck in the breakroom, and if he is meant to annoy the audience in addition to his co-workers, he succeeds. Anisha Nagarajan exhibits the major cultural differences between India and America by being such a submissive woman she doesn’t speak above a whisper, and though Rebecca Hazlewood shows hints of layers by offering wry reactions to flat dialogue, the pilot script focuses much more on poking jabs at Sacha Dhawan’s character’s name (Manmeet) to have time to develop any of them further as actual people.
And while the show is at it, Outsourced also makes fun of the differences in India’s food, in addition to their baby naming conventions, as well. It seems to rely on the fact that what is new, different, or still exotic to some is fodder at which to poke fun, rather than give a try. With that logic, then, there is absolutely no reason audiences should want to give the show itself a try!
Oh yeah, and comedian Diedrich Bader is along for the ride, too, inexplicably and sadly superfluously, as another American transplant heading the better team. Naturally, the good ole-fashioned sense of competition kicks in, and Todd tries to instill a little team building and understanding in order to get his group to step up their effectiveness. What may be good for sales, though, is not for the audience because his idea of understanding is integrating, and he has them perform a stereotypical and somewhat insulting montage of popular music and movie quotes, in addition to giving them samples of their products. And when they sell gems like fake blood and vomit puddles, relying on sight gags suddenly feels like an all-time low.
With the immensely strong comedies NBC has returning this year (30 Rock and Community being the stand-outs), it is a wonder why they didn’t just call it a day and focus time, energy, and marketing to make those middle-of-the-run series have a stellar year, which could ensure them a few more years on air in the long run. Outsourced feels like something out of the mid-2000s NBC comedy block, when their biggest hits had long-surpassed their heyday and went out whimpering.
Outsourced premieres on NBC on September 23rd at 9:30pm.