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You Know That's Saag Paneer, Dude
September 24, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

In the wake of increasingly prominent appearances by South Asians in American television (Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Danny Pudi), NBC has launched Outsourced (preview) (full pilot on Hulu), a comedy about an American who moves to Mumbai to manage a call center. Featuring a mostly South Asian cast, the show is a potential high-water mark for Indians in popular American media. But is the show's portrayal of Indians progressive, or does it get bogged down in stereotypes and clichéd jokes about spicy food and funny names? Himanshu Suri of art rap trio Das Racist weighs in. posted by naju (89 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Got better ratings than Community or 30 Rock.
posted by smackfu at 12:15 PM on September 24, 2010


I've been wondering, since I saw the first promo for this show, how much it is an American adaptation of Mumbai Calling. Which wasn't a great show, but was entertaining enough that I watched it all once I found it online and downloaded it.

(The last show that Sanjeev Bhaskar was in that was adapted for US television, "The Kumars At No. 42", was hilarious in its original incarnation. The US version, "The Ortegas", never actually made it to air, it was so awful.)
posted by hippybear at 12:16 PM on September 24, 2010


Surely the TV show is based on the film, Outsourced?
posted by dirtdirt at 12:20 PM on September 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


Got better ratings than Community or 30 Rock.

*sporks America in the face*

(30 Rock is way past its prime and last night's ep had such an offensive joke in an above-current-average ep that I'm not sure I'm going to watch anymore, but Community is just fucking awesome.)
posted by kmz at 12:20 PM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've been waiting for Angry Asian Man to weigh in.

dirtdirt, yep, it's based on the movie.
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on September 24, 2010


Sorry... link to his blog: Angry Asian Man.
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on September 24, 2010


It was better than I expected, but still not great. Definitely had its moments, but was sort of all over the place in terms of trying to find a consistent comedic voice. Lowest of low-brow at times, and clever at others, but not enough work was done to bridge the gap.

Perhaps it will improve as the run continues, but even if it does, it's not going to stop me from longing for the return of Parks and Rec, which, last I checked, is scheduled for a mid-season replacement, presumably when Outsourced gets moved or canceled. More comma splices.

Also, Community, Office, and 30 Rock were in peak form last night, which made it look a lot worse by contrast.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:21 PM on September 24, 2010


It's weird how behind the curve this show is. India is hardly what I'd call mysterious and exotic, these days. And as one of the linked articles says, you can get Indian food in any mall in Wisconsin.
And as for outsourcing, the majority of the news stories I've heard regarding it over the last 3 or 4 years have been about companies bringing their call centers back to America.
posted by mrnutty at 12:22 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


This show was more 100x offensive and derogatory to the genre of comedy than to South Asians.


What happened to Dietrich Bader? He is becoming the king of not funny movies and shows.

I dunno, I'll watch it for a bit. Parks and recreation started out as one of the worst shows I've ever seen and has morphed into something pretty absurd and awesome.

"We brought a possum into your house and it got out and it may have laid eggs in your bed. And it went it your kitchen and your bathroom and it touched all your bras. Bye, Anne ---I love you"

posted by reklus at 12:23 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do not let Aziz Ansar "act".
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


If we're going to have comedies about jobs going overseas, how about some sitcoms about Christian Fundamentalists rewriting history, or military powers fighting wars under false pretenses? Maybe a blooper show set in Louisiana with BennyHillified segments of New Orleans being flooded and oil washing up on the coast. If you're too tired to cry, at least you can try to laugh.
posted by spoobnooble at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


A comedy indeed. This has Hogan's Heroes written all over it.
posted by timsteil at 12:27 PM on September 24, 2010


It's not racist, but it wasn't terribly great, either.

What I really couldn't figure out was who this show is for. What audience is it aiming at?

Seemed aimed at that part of middle America that has never seen an Indian lunch buffet. But this seems to be a rapidly dwindling population of old farts.

Moreover, it's not the audience that's already watching The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community, which are far edgier than usually gets credit.

It seemed like a CBS comedy that escaped and, like the people in a Hogwarts painting, starting roaming around the castle before ending up on NBC.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:27 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


is the show's portrayal of Indians progressive, or does it get bogged down in stereotypes and clichéd jokes about spicy food and funny names?

The latter. I only watched a little less than half, but it was not promising.

I'm not a huge fan, but I was also disappointed by both 30 Rock and The Office.

30 Rock seems to have devolved from a standout ensemble comedy into a shlocky relationship-driven sitcom soap.

I give The Office some credit for shaking up their plot, but the first episode lacked much funny.

In the past year, I've found Parks & Rec to be the best of the bunch, if only for Nick Offerman.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:30 PM on September 24, 2010


I was on the fence about it till Diedrich Bader came on the screen and explained about the five days of suffering.

It was so unexpected and such a fantastic delivery that I sort of felt like the whole show was thought up, pitched, green-lit, written, produced, and aired just for that one moment.

I'll keep watching for him alone (though the rest of it certainly seemed promising.)
posted by quin at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


30 Rock seems to have devolved from a standout ensemble comedy into a shlocky relationship-driven sitcom soap.

This is one of my biggest problems with television. Almost everything seems to end up being personal life focused shit.
posted by ODiV at 12:37 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seemed aimed at that part of middle America that has never seen an Indian lunch buffet.

The Valley doesn't reach that far south on the I-5
posted by The Lady is a designer at 12:37 PM on September 24, 2010


It's no "Kath and Kim."
posted by drezdn at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the links! I had seen the ads for this show and thought, "... really...?"

I think everyone's being a little too generous with respect to the ethnic awareness of the Average White American.

I live about 90 minutes north of Seattle, and a few weeks ago I had to meet a client in town for lunch. I suggested Thai food. Who doesn't like Thai food? It's noodley and good! You can buy a Phad Thai kit in Safeway, for pity's sake.

He admitted he had never eaten Thai food, and spent the entire lunch acutely, visibly uncomfortable at being so far outside his comfort range. He very nearly made a "cat meat" joke, although thankfully I saw it coming and managed to stop him with an extremely sharp look.

A lot of people are asking "who is this show's intended audience?" I'm pretty sure the answer is: that guy. And I'm afraid there are more of them than you'd want to think.
posted by ErikaB at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


Surely the TV show is based on the film, Outsourced?

I really liked the movie, but can't imagine how its charm would be translated into a show. Oh, right, that's generally not required when going from film-to-TV.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2010


I just skimmed the articles, but the New York mag piece seems spot on.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2010


I was on the fence about it till Diedrich Bader came on the screen and explained about the five days of suffering.

That's funny because that's the point where I turned it off. Diarrhea jokes? (I actually like Bader too.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on September 24, 2010


Okay. Having actually WATCHED the pilot now...

If it's an adaptation of Mumbai Calling, it's been filtered through a lot of layers of American xenophobia. Holy cow. *heh*

I guess the reason it "worked" from a UK perspective is because of british colonial rule of India and how that already has imported a working knowledge of the culture into that country.

This, well... maybe it will hit its stride eventually, if it survives that long.
posted by hippybear at 12:45 PM on September 24, 2010


If this show does well they're going to cancel Parks and Recreation, which is on forced-hiatus until the spring. Therefore I want to smash it with a hammer. SMASH SMASH SMASH. SMASH FOR AMY.

Also who knew the author of such sage lyrics as "IM AT THE PIZZA HUT" and "I'M AT THE TACO BELL" and who could forget 'IM AT THE COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL" could be so thoughtful.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


The pilot sucked. The jokes were lame. The characters were not interesting. It had a handful of lame stereotype jokes but the jokes that didn't depend on stereotypes were also terrible.
posted by I Foody at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


>>If this show does well they're going to cancel Parks and Recreation, which is on forced-hiatus until the spring. Therefore I want to smash it with a hammer. SMASH SMASH SMASH. SMASH FOR AMY.

YOU HAVE MY AXE.
posted by spec80 at 12:52 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sat and watched this for about 10 minutes next to my Indian wife before we had to stop and clean up the vomit from all over the living room. I could maybe see tolerating this kind of racism (I mean, it struck neither of us as mean spirited) if it said something insightful, or also celebrated a culture, or if it was used in any way to generate any kind of humor or entertainment, but this was easily one of the most awful things I've ever seen on television. I mean right up there with Bill O'Reilly kind of insulting. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:54 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Watched half of it. It was absolutely terrible.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:57 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to spend my lunch breaks behind the counter of my best friend's inner city convenience store. From that and many other experiences I can safely say that there'll be a large audience for this sort of lazy sitcom where I live.
posted by doublehappy at 1:01 PM on September 24, 2010


The pilot sucked. The jokes were lame. The characters were not interesting. It had a handful of lame stereotype jokes but the jokes that didn't depend on stereotypes were also terrible.

true. but i also said this about modern family and that won an emmy so i guess what i'm saying is LESS CRITIQUEY MORE SMASHY
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:12 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm hopeful for Detroit 187. Shaun Majumder (aka 'Binder', Kumar's brother in 'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle') seemed very pleased with how his character was treated by the show's producers. There's an interview from earlier this week with him talking about roles for South Asians in the Sept. 20th podcast of the CBC show 'Q' .
posted by Hardcore Poser at 1:16 PM on September 24, 2010


The movie this train wreck is based on- also Outsourced, link above- is a sweet, funny, dare I say life-affirming film. I hate what they've done to it. HATE it.

Please, please check out the movie. If the scene where the family makes the protagonist lunch with borrowed electricity doesn't bring tears to your eyes, you have a heart of stone. One of the purest, most beautiful moments of cinema that I've ever seen.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:17 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Diarrhea jokes?

Yeah, I know. Normally that kind of thing doesn't do anything for me, but it wasn't so much the scatological nature of the joke, as it was the menace inherent in the expectation; as he held up his fingers and continued to increment the number of days, in an unblinking promise that This Was The Way It Is.

Bader can deliver a straight line like that really well, and I think that's what made it work for me.
posted by quin at 1:22 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't watch Outsourced, which was an accident. Though I made a vow to stop watching crap-filler Thursday-in-between NBC comedies about 3.4 minutes into Good Morning Miami and I never looked back, I was curious to see if it would be funny and racist, or not funny and not racist. To be honest, I must have too much faith in the world sometimes -- because I never thought it would be both racist and not funny.

I'm sure, like SpiffyRob said above about the quality of the show, the tone-deaf treatment of race looks really bad compared to its neighbors on NBC's Thursday night sitcoms, each of which has been the type that poke at such issues well but without crossing the line.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:24 PM on September 24, 2010


The high point of the episode for me was seeing the boss (stationed in Kansas City) eating Arthur Bryant's for lunch. Good barbecue is to be celebrated.
posted by TypographicalError at 1:30 PM on September 24, 2010


It really isn't racist in a malignant way. That debate is just going to get people to watch it out of curiosity and go: "Hmm this wasn't particularly hateful..." and propagate it somehow.

It's just Not. Funny. At. All.
Which, if you ask Jerry Seinfeld, is way more offensive.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:30 PM on September 24, 2010


i flipped past it at the point that they went from the "cows are sacred" ~cue funny sound effect/look from the cow~ to the lunch line "indians eat the craziest things! amirite?!?" straight into diarrhea. i'm thinking more and more that i'm just not the audience for tv comedies - can't get on board with community or parks and rec, stopped watching 30 rock after the 2nd season or so, thought the office was only good for the first couple of years...so i'm obviously not the intended target - but, all the same, i thought it was terrible.

racism doesn't have to be mean to be awful. in some ways "i'm not being mean, but your culture is just so funny/weird!" i think it worse for our society. it sells the lie that we're "post-racial" while padding the ingrained racism we're all standing on.
posted by nadawi at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Television - a great invention, a technological wonder with programs not worth watching, certainly not worth paying cable rates for.
posted by Cranberry at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sit Down Man. Out now. FIRE!
posted by jcruelty at 1:52 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do not let Aziz Ansar "act".

I find his character in Parks and Recreation pretty funny. Of course I've only seen clips and one full show.
posted by delmoi at 1:53 PM on September 24, 2010


Also, Nehru Jackets - Himanshu's new blog. Also, erm, fire.
posted by jcruelty at 1:54 PM on September 24, 2010


Also who knew the author of such sage lyrics as "IM AT THE PIZZA HUT" and "I'M AT THE TACO BELL" and who could forget 'IM AT THE COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL" could be so thoughtful.

Come on, that song is hilarious. It's like Ionesco level absurdity.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:59 PM on September 24, 2010


I'm watching it no on Hulu so I can make an informed comment.

Commercial breaks? On the internet? What the fuck?
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Das Racist is awesome, if you've only heard the pizza hut thing you should really check out their mixtape(s).
posted by jcruelty at 2:04 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


You would indeed be amazed about the cultural ignorance of Americans.*

A couple of years ago I got tipped to do the diversity newsletter in my old department. I was all excited, because I thought it would be fun and I could talk about all the neat things that I love about the glorious complexity of human culture.

And then the first month someone thanked me for having a display on different world religions, because it was the first time they understood there was a distinction between Hindus and Muslims.

Yeah.

*I say americans because I am american and that is my milieu. Sadly, I am sure that other places are ignorant too.
posted by winna at 2:15 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Alright, I watched the whole thing. It was terrible. It was like the plot was just there as an excuse for 1-liners and visual humor. Some of the one-liners were funny but as a whole it was just boring and awkward.
posted by delmoi at 2:22 PM on September 24, 2010


Do not let Aziz Ansar "act".

I find his character in Parks and Recreation pretty funny. Of course I've only seen clips and one full show.


I have not seen that show because, well, it's Parks and Recreation. However I have seen him "acting" in Jericho (which the entire rest of the world never saw because it was Jericho) and it was TERRIBLE. He has, like, five accents. In a single sentence. I dunno, maybe he does better in a comedic role, but his drama acting license should be revoked for life.
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on September 24, 2010


Just watched some of the pilot. I really like Bader. But it's just not funny. I'm not watching commercials on my computer for something that bad. Sorry.
posted by Splunge at 2:29 PM on September 24, 2010


It's just Not. Funny. At. All.
Which, if you ask Jerry Seinfeld, is way more offensive.


Is that not kinda like asking the cow about particular cuts of beef, though?
posted by joe lisboa at 2:32 PM on September 24, 2010


Aziz Ansari is certainly not my favorite actor but he's pretty fucking great in Parks and Recreation which is my vote for best recent sitcom. Modern Family and Community are both great too, but Parks and Recreation is something else entirely. Also, it has Rashida Jones who I find to be the most attractive woman of all time. OF ALL TIME!
posted by josher71 at 2:33 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn. Now I've got a craving for saag paneer.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:33 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Das Racist is awesome

FAVORITED FOR TRUTH
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:41 PM on September 24, 2010


Goodness Gracious Me

Hari Kondabolu

Fuck an Outsourced, it don't have to be like that.
posted by jcruelty at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2010


I think we can all agree that most shows on TV suck. If that is the case then one more sucky show isn't such a bad thing. At least this way some South Asian actors can feed their families for however long this lasts.

As far as any racism in the show, considering how the other times I see South Asians on TV they are either A) terrorists or B) good guys working against the terrorists (which is the producer's way of saying "see not all brown people are bad, we have some good ones on the show too", before going on to show that except for those specific good ones all brown people are in fact bad) I have to think this is a step in the right direction (however small it happens to be).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:47 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Artw: you're thinking of Aasif "that's right, Jon" Mandvi.
posted by teraflop at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2010


Doh. I totally am.

/hangs head in shame.
posted by Artw at 2:50 PM on September 24, 2010


Even the sets and overall production was completely awful.

Almost everything I saw in those 15 minutes I watched was just appallingly bad. The opening credit sequence had music that was ear-catching and it looked colorful and different. That's the only complement I can give that horrible show.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:50 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Parks and Rec, which, last I checked, is scheduled for a mid-season replacement

WHAT? Ugh. Please don't replace it with this unfunny crap. I tried to watch it, but even the jokes weren't that good.

FIVE DAYS was the only funny moment. Not becuase of omgpoopjoke, but the delivery as noted above was spot on. Diedrich has now been typecast as the other guy on the other side of the wall (cf:Office Space).
posted by Big_B at 3:04 PM on September 24, 2010


Who doesn't like Thai food? It's noodley and good!

Oh sure, I like it alright. But every bite is a gamble for those of us with peanut allergies.
posted by Think_Long at 3:07 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always imagine the south asian call center employees to be bollywood performers between gigs. "Have you tried rebooting your router?" - Looks of into the distance in a stubble faced young man way through his tinted sunglasses while agonizing over the tensions of tradition/modernity and family/love. "Is your router plugged in?" Music starts - coat flung off. "is the second yellow light blinking?" - Singing starts. "Technical Support is not out dream. English IE users make us want to scream" Dancing starts....

The show I just wrote/produced/directed in my head is so awesome I can't wait to see how it demolishes the one being talked about here...
posted by srboisvert at 3:36 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


ethnomethodologist: The movie this train wreck is based on- also Outsourced, link above- is a sweet, funny, dare I say life-affirming film.

I recommended this movie to someone the other day. I hope people won't avoid checking it out because of bad associations with a crap tv show.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:39 PM on September 24, 2010


Bader can deliver a straight line like that really well, and I think that's what made it work for me.

I'll give you that. The delivery was kinda funny, and actually the only time I almost chuckled. He can probably deliver a turd far better than most actors. I do think he's a good actor.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:44 PM on September 24, 2010


There seems to be a culture of politically correct racism which scolds me for making prima facie horrific racist jokes which are actually funny and sometimes actually offer a commentary on racism and celebrate our cultural differences by lampooning or deriding them yet allows this show to hire the writing team from two and a half men (not actually) to highlight and reinforce those differences and stereotypes. The worlds a big fucked up mix of cultures and for the most part it's a pretty shitty place, kafkaesque, brutal, and that sucks, but it's also hilarious. The contradictions between and within cultures are funny. The differences between our diets, not so much. The way Asian family units, for example, differ from White folk family units blows my mind and makes for some awkward but comical situations. And it's not just culture clashes, it's the tensions within cultures. My girlfriend's dad is Vietnamese and her mum is Japanese and their home life is an amazing mix of traditional Vietnamese, Catholic, Japanese, and New Zealand cultures with a dash of German and American influences. My Oma has been here since the war and still has a strong Dutch accent. She manage to turn even basic conversations into who's on first? Routines. This source material is ripe for jokes that won't see the light of day on network television and we're worse off for it. In my family, we welcome people by ripping them to shreds: character, appearance, job, anything that stands out. You can tell when they don't like someone because they try to be polite. My family are pretty racist: they're always nice to "darkies" and "slanteyes" but only to their face. As a society we should prefer honesty. You can't face something that's not out there. Which takes me a long way from my point, which was probably something like "Have some guts and be perceptive, tv writers. You're doing it wrong. This show is anprime example."
posted by doublehappy at 3:46 PM on September 24, 2010


The Devanagari's all wrong in the titles.
posted by goodglovin77 at 3:51 PM on September 24, 2010


Also who knew the author of such sage lyrics as

ughhh do i tell you to shut up dude or sit down man

Seriously, Hima got more rhymes than Puerto Ricans got cousins, according to something I recently heard.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:04 PM on September 24, 2010


Danny Pudi is half Indian and half Polish.
posted by anniecat at 4:05 PM on September 24, 2010


I live about 90 minutes north of Seattle, and a few weeks ago I had to meet a client in town for lunch. I suggested Thai food.
posted by ErikaB at 12:40 PM on September 24 [14 favorites +] [!]

Doesn't that mean you live in Vancouver? You are in Canada - you know?
posted by helmutdog at 4:19 PM on September 24, 2010


Also who knew the author of such sage lyrics as "IM AT THE PIZZA HUT" and "I'M AT THE TACO BELL" and who could forget 'IM AT THE COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL" could be so thoughtful.

I did. Becausethat song is fucking genius level humor.
posted by dame at 4:57 PM on September 24, 2010


Could be Bellingham.
posted by josher71 at 4:57 PM on September 24, 2010


That interview with Bob Borden makes me incredibly angry.

And some of it was pretty silly, the sensitivities, invariably, of white critics. A white lady came up to me and said "You have a joke about Indian food, are you worried about that being offensive?" And I thought, you know, my college roommate is Indian, and he's a doctor. And when he goes to India, he brings antibiotics with him. No, I'm not worried about making a joke about Indian food.

Would you say this Indian doctor is one of your best friends, Mr. Borden? Does it really seem to you that the criticism is "invariably" from "sensitive" white critics?

When you signed up for the show, did you have a fleeting moment in your mind that you might be taking a scouting trip to India?


Oh I tried to go. I tried to go. But I owed my wife a different trip. So I figured I was about to disappear into production, so I should try and make her happy, and we'll go to India if the show succeeds.


Dude, it's India, not Mars. It's right over there. You don't think you should go to the place where you're setting your primetime TV show and, you know, check it out? Preferably, before you make a bunch of jokes about what life is like in this place you haven't been to? So that maybe you can write a joke that is actually funny, and then you can have a successful show and be allowed by your wife to go back?

That all sounds like a pretty good plan to me, I wonder what happened. Oh, right, Bob Borden, creator of daring fish-out-of-water comedies, could not manage to leave his comfort zone. It's cool, Bob, you can learn everything you need to know about India by Skyping your Indian doctor best friend.
posted by Errant at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


I watched Community and 30 Rock and then I went to Hulu to get the latest Parks and Recreation and when there wasn't one I made a sad face and then went and bought candy and cheese to gorge myself on in hopes of quelling my sadness.

Liz Lemon influences me in bad ways.
posted by NoraReed at 6:14 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


YIKES! Does that ever suck. The movie was really wonderful, and it also made basic sense (like having the Indians working at night instead of the middle of the day).

Also, WTF is up with that bizarre, creepy joke(?) in the middle of 30 Rock? Why did they repeat it?
posted by jeoc at 6:22 PM on September 24, 2010


In a way the show can trick you into thinking it’s post-race (which is already a trick), fitting in cultural observations on Americans (we eat hamburgers! we waste money!) and Indians (we don’t eat cows! we want American jobs!) in one 30-minute episode. If you’re confused between the “we”s, welcome to my life or that of any American of _________ descent. No that’s a joke, because you’ll never really understand.

Heh.
posted by joedan at 6:27 PM on September 24, 2010


I have not seen that show because, well, it's Parks and Recreation.

You need to stop and explain this.
posted by kafziel at 6:46 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where we talk about how amazing the metacomedy on Community is? Awesome.

In an era when culture is intensely fragmented and cultural artifacts get created faster then ever, making comedy that everyone can identify with is more and more difficult. You can pander, like Outsourced does, to cheap prejudice, or you can take the smart route and write a group of well-meaning people who are funny because they make mistakes which are awkward in the context of a reference-loaded culture. It's that we know the show dates itself with Shit My Dad Says reference - and that that part of the culture is so transient - that makes the humor right on.

Enough intellectualizing, that shit makes me laugh.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:04 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


The movie was funny and it is on Netflix instant. TV show adaptation was meh fest and was on Hulu. Batting .500. Same as Shit My Dad Says. And so it goes.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:54 PM on September 24, 2010


That's some of the stupidest shit I've ever seen in my life.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:01 PM on September 24, 2010


That's nothing. You should see the racist British sitcoms I grew up with. Love Thy Neighbour was the story of black and white guys living next door who hated each other (although their wives got on OK), and racially abused each other constantly.
The closest parallel to Outsourced though was It Ain't Half Hot Mum, which celebrated colonial India, complete with a white actor blacked-up as the top ranking Indian servant.
posted by w0mbat at 11:41 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remember when we used to make fun of Ben Silverman?

It’s his replacement, Angela Bromstad, who dropped Parks & Rec for this.

Never thought you’d miss old cokehead, didja?

I have a TV pilot (also a short play script) set in Detroit that includes a character who’s half South-Asian/ half-African American. If I ever get to expand on this story (episodes, novelizing) exploring what it’d be like having these two different ethnic backgrounds would be interesting.

But in the initial script I don’t even allude to her ethnic background, except via her name. (Although, come to think of it, I do have some Russian-born characters who need work. However, at least I, unlike this showrunner, knows they aren't right yet.)
posted by NorthernLite at 8:56 AM on September 25, 2010


I will cry if Parks and Rec gets cancelled, and so I must pledge fealty to the budding SMASHY SMASH FOR AMY! movement in this thread...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2010


leslie: when i say PARKS, you say DEPARTMENT!
PARKS!
....
PARKS!
andy: APARTMENT!
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:37 PM on September 25, 2010


South Asian comedy has been done much better in the UK, by South Asians.
posted by vidur at 6:03 PM on September 26, 2010


I guess the reason it "worked" from a UK perspective is because of british colonial rule of India and how that already has imported a working knowledge of the culture into that country.

Not so much that as rather that there's a big Asian population over in the UK and has been since the 60s/70s, and a lot of our call-centres now are based in India, so it's something that's familiar to non-Indians too. Also, it starred Sanjeev Bhaskar, who is Asian.
posted by mippy at 6:05 AM on September 27, 2010


Oh, woah, is Parks and Rec cancelled? I can't look at Hulu at work what with not being able to tell it that I'm American.
posted by mippy at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2010


Oh, woah, is Parks and Rec cancelled?

No, just delayed. NBC basically only has four comedy spots in their schedule, and they have two good performing shows (Office and 30 Rock) and two mediocre performing shows (Community and Parks & Rec). So they delayed Parks & Rec to try and launch something that would get better ratings.
posted by smackfu at 6:10 AM on September 27, 2010


Oh, I find the US TV thing complicated. I have no idea what sweeps etc are. We tend to just buy things on box sets over here (this is how anyone in the UK, pretty much, got to see Seinfeld - it was shown at 1am for about three months on BBC2) but Parks and Rec hasn't got a release. We used to get ABC1 which showed a lot of US comedy shows (loved Less Than Perfect) but unless it's shown on FX, late night BBC/More4 or maybe Paramount, we don't get to see it. Not even sure the US Office is shown over here now - it was on a relatively obscure digital channel. Hulu's great when I can get it to work here.

And I don;t get the cable channels that show It's Always Sunny and 30 Rock, so I need to take time to see what I reckon to those. Is Community any good?
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on September 27, 2010


How to fix the culturally ignorant "Outsourced" - One frustrated Indian offers suggestions for an NBC show that's too often wrong, embarrassing or stuck in the past

- Riddhi Shah, Salon
posted by mrgrimm at 11:11 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Curiously, while the first episode was godawful beginning to end, the second episode was ... not bad. It's not great, and absolutely needs to go away so Parks and Recreation can come back, but it's significantly improved.
posted by kafziel at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2010


It will be interesting to see whether it really is a "fundamentally flawed" concept, or just a show that needs a few episodes to get going, like The Office or Parks and Rec or basically any other show ever.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on October 7, 2010


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