Watching a television show which you know has been cancelled after just one season does create a sense of prejudice. As much as audiences know that there have been a number of legendary shows cancelled before they had a chance to live you cannot help but wonder – what’s wrong with this? So we have strike one against Outsourced.
Add this initial prejudice to the premise of Outsourced and you could be forgiven for not even bothering. Outsourced was created as an offshoot of a 2007 romantic comedy of the same name. Both plots revolve around the character Todd, a typical fish out of water story, as he is relocated from America to India to manage a call centre. We’ve all had bad experiences with relocated call centres so the thought of watching a comedy about it brings about strike two. Next is the inevitable culture warp and stereotypes from American writers who may never have actually left their country. Strike three. When you do a little research into the show you also find that most of the actors are weirdly from Illinois or the UK, explaining their accents (hyper-Indian at times). Strike four. Unsurprisingly a lot of the humour does revolve around cultural misunderstandings and can at times dissolve into being completely crass. The pilot offers up literally shit jokes.
Despite all of the above the show is actually more watchable than you would imagine after you get passed those first few episodes. This may be in credit to the fact that the screenwriter and director, Ken Kwapis, has written for shows which were strong (Malcolm in the Middle, The Office US). The characters do slowly grow on you. They are over the top and intense caricatures of what you would imagine an American imagines an Indian to be like. However it is valuable to think within context and note that a lot of comedy sitcoms are based on racial and cultural stereotypes. It is the writers/actors and director’s ability to add the element of humanity to these characters which make you forget the cartoon you are watching and identify with them.
What is interesting about Outsourced is that it begins with a lot of hurdles against it for someone to even like it (and before you even watch an episode). With the bar for changing opinion set so high it is unlikely that it could win over a large audience but it does make a decent attempt. You can see the characters becoming more rounded and likeable and the slapstick balancing with the humanity storylines but it doesn’t manage to reach the levels of balance that shows like The Office US do. Like the actors the show has been created and written by Americans and you cannot help but wonder if they had someone working on the show who had a realistic view of the premise it may have found its niche.
Some will view Outsourced as abhorrent. If American sitcoms are not your thing it would be best if you completely avoid this show. If you are fond of this type of show it could be worth a watch. Whilst it won’t be the most intelligent show you’ve ever seen it will raise a smile and may make you contemplate cultural stereotype and whether your views are actually accurate. And if a slapstick comedy can make you start examining your own stereotypes it can’t be all that bad can it.