Image Credit: Harper Smith/NBCI didn’t have high expectations going into Outsourced, I’ll admit, based on the universally tepid reaction of critics and the fact that a friend of mine who is brown like me, with parents who came from India like mine, said her cousin cried after watching the promo. But I tried to clear all that from my mind as I sat down to watch the pilot episode last night.
And, score a point (or maybe half a point?) for Outsourced, no tears fell from my eyes as I watched the one-dimensional quirks play out: the Indian men reduced to fetishizing sexual intimacy (“I like redheads. And blondes…and dark-haired women,” declared Sacha Dewan’s desperate Manmeet, who lives, predictably, with his parents); the sari-clad Madhuri (Anisha Nagarajan) who can’t or won’t speak above a whisper due to a ruinous Eastern-style shyness; Todd (Ben Rappaport), who is American, and therefore looser in all things — love, work, family, etc. Nope, I didn’t cry exactly, but I definitely frowned. My eyebrows wrinkled. The show struck me as more irritatingly lazy than out-of-touch, considering most of the bits that could be labeled offensive were also just unfunny.
The only character who wasn’t plagued by stock quirks was (surprisingly) the hammiest: Gupta, played by Parvesh Cheena, whose runaway dialogue about his hermaphrodite aunt verged on comedy (plus he used the word “Aunty,” a nice touch). There were other little moments that struck me as realistic — like Manmeet humming “Tujhe Dekha To yeh Jaana Sanam,” a popular Bollywood song from the early ’90s, in the break room. But then he mispronounced the Hindu epic, Ramayana (“R as in Ramayana”), and any verisimilitude flew out the window.
What did you think? Did you see potential in the Outsourced pilot? Is the name Manmeet actually hilarious? Were you laughing at Todd as he laughed at Manmeet, in a meta, post-racial sort of way?! Comments below, please!