“Outsourced” is NBC’s new workplace comedy series centered around a catalog-based company, Mid America Novelties, that sells American novelty goods including whoopee cushions, foam fingers and wallets made of bacon, and whose call center has suddenly been outsourced to India.
After recently completing Mid America Novelties’ manager training program, Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport, off-Broadway’s “The Gingerbread House”) learns that the call center is being outsourced to India, and he is asked to move there to be the manager. Having never ventured out of the country, he is unprepared for the culture shock. Overwhelmed, Todd discovers that his new staff needs a crash course in all things American if they are to understand the U.S. product line and ramp up sales from halfway around the world.
The sales team Todd inherits includes Gupta (Parvesh Cheena, “Help Me Help You”), a socially awkward employee; Manmeet (Sacha Dhawan, BBC’s “Five Days II”), a young romantic who is enamored with America; Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood, BBC’s “Doctors”), a smart, striking woman who finds herself intrigued by Todd; Rajiv (Rizwan Manji, “Privileged”) the assistant manager who wants Todd’s job; and Madhuri (Anisha Nagarajan, Broadway’s “Bombay Dreams”), a wallflower who suffers from extreme shyness.
Todd also discovers other transplants working in his office building, including an American expatriate, Charlie Davies (Diedrich Bader, “The Drew Carey Show”), who runs the All-American Hunter call center, and Tonya (Pippa Black, “Neighbours”), a beautiful Australian who runs the call center for Koala Air. – NBC
The Preview (Originally posted on 9/23/2010):
Shawn: I don’t know what appeals to me more, the politically incorrect tone of this series or the fact that it looks absolutely hilarious. I also like the premise that they telemarket novelties like rubber vomit and whoopee cushions. Looking forward to this, I hope the show can live up to the hype in the trailer.
7 out of 10
Unfortunately, Outsourced looked a lot funnier in the trailer than it has turned out to be. I’m not saying that I don’t like the show but I think the whole concept of the series works better for a film than it does for a weekly sitcom.
The hilarious trailer is literally a four-minute summation of the entire pilot episode and though the jokes while rapid-fire in the trailer are very funny, they don’t work particularly well for comedic value over the course of 23 minutes. That or it was one of those issues like with the film The Hangover where they literally showed every funny scene in the movie in the trailers and because of that when I actually saw it I didn’t think it was that funny. Probably not, though, because every episode following the pilot has followed the same trend and I’m still not laughing as much as I would have hoped.
Every single episode kind of follows the same formula and that is Todd dealing with an issue involving the differences between American culture and Indian culture. Some of the jokes work but a lot of them don’t and the reason why is that they keep reverting to this standby of taking an American turn-of-phrase and having one of the Indian characters repeat it using a funny accent and saying it in the style of… well… an Indian. Here’s an example:
Gupta: As you say in America, it looks like you are up a creek and have forgotten your paddle. Also, this is a creek of feces… a most unpleasant creek for you.
See what I mean? That line was one of the funnier ones but every episode is full of these and it gets a little stale when there’s a dozen of those per episode because you really just start expecting it. Like I said, it’s the kind of thing that works sporadically in a feature film but it can’t carry a series. Just think of how well it worked during the few cameo scenes with Mooj (Gerry Bednob) in The 40 Year-Old Virgin (and it was even funnier because he was so foul-mouthed).
WARNING: NSFW (LANGUAGE, SEXUAL REMARKS)
But you wouldn’t want a whole series based around that (foul language and sexual remarks notwithstanding). It would be like having an entire series based around people who tried to speak American English but they also sounded like Yoda. It would be funny the first couple of times but it would lose its appeal rather quickly.
Beyond that, though, these characters are very likable and although the different scenarios all have the same general premise, I find myself still wanting to tune in every week. It’s very charming.
So, in the end, Outsourced is an enjoyable show even if it’s not as funny as I would have expected and it does have the potential to pick up steam and become a lot funnier with a little bit of effort on the writer’s part.
Watch full episodes of Outsourced, here.