Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Rose-Tinted Look at Outsourced


Hey, everybody! It's that time of the year again when all those TV shows that we'll soon forget about start airing. Of all the TV pilots airing this fall, there's one that you must see: the plot for Outsourced. I know this because it's the only pilot that's part of NBC's "Must See TV" Line-Up and, come on, it's not like NBC would lie about something like that.

I mean, the concept is actually genuinely intriguing. It's about an American who shows up to work to find that all his co-workers have been fired and their jobs outsourced to India. But he gets sent to India to work with the new workers. It's a perfect opportunity for some biting satire of the way corporations exploit countries with weaker labor laws at the expense of workers in both countries while enriching themselves.

And, if we accept the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics, it's entirely conceivable that, in one of those worlds, the show actually lived up to its potential!

Just not this world.

So I watched the show and, while, the show did not live up to that potential, I'm still giddy with joy at how well it turned out. This is because I have swallowed the magical (metaphorical) happy-pill known as incredibly low expectations. And you can have that magical happy-pill too by watching the show's trailer!



I mean, wow! Doesn't that just make it look like the single worst show in television history? And yet, I am pleased to announce, Outsourced is not only not the worst show in television history, it's not even the second worst show in television history! It might be the third worst. I don't watch enough TV to know for sure.

So, just as this show takes a rose-tinted look at outsourcing, let us take a rose-tinted look at Outsourced.

The first amazing thing about this pilot is that there were three whole jokes in it that were genuinely funny. They were

1. The fact that all of the outsourcing companies have the word “America” or “American” in their name, but they don't beat you over the head with that fact.
2. The scene where Jerry the boss casually tosses the brick hurled at the window by an ex-employee into a pile of bricks.
3. The following exchange between out plucky hero Todd and another American:
"You’re not a real power until you’ve got your own cheese."
"So the real powers are us, the Swiss . . ."
"I don’t wanna talk politics."
Just think. This is one of the most bottom-feeding, lowest common denominator shows out there and they still took the time to come up with not one, not two but three bouts of actual, genuine inspiration. Now that takes some effort. I mean, normally it doesn't take all that much effort, but we're talking about a pandering NBC show here, so you have to take a relative definition of effort.

But what about all the other jokes? You know, the ones that weren't funny? Well once again, the power of obscenely low expectations saves the day! The really painful jokes, like the puns about the guy named Manmeet and the guy singing The Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha", were all in the trailer! The rest of the jokes were just kind of meh, which is like comedy gold when you have no expectations whatsoever!


Okay, not all of the soul-crushingly awful jokes were in the trailer. There was a recurring bit about Indian food causing diarrhea. However, I have heard from an American who studied abroad in India that the weak health codes in India means that a lot of the cheaper restaurants in India cause people to get sick if they haven't eaten that food all their lives. So while the jokes were painfully unfunny, at least they were true.

And you know what? If they had posed the joke as being about poor health codes rather than those craaazy Indians with their craaazy taste in food, it might have actually been funny! And, if we accept the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics . . . well, you know where I'm going with this.

But do you know what's really great about Outsourced? The fact that it's not aggressively racist! A lot of right-wing populists like to use outsourcing to whip anti-Asian racism, so I think we should all give NBC a round of applause for having the courage to not do that. It is true that all of the Indian characters are crude, one-dimensional stereotypes, but you have to remember that all of the characters on this show are crude, one-dimensional stereotypes!


And hey, at least it's a show with a lot of non-white characters. Maybe some of the actors will break out of this show into legitimate comedy careers. And there aren't enough Indian-American comedians. I mean the only Indian-American comedian anybody can name is Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation. But he'll probably fade from the public consciousness since Parks and Recreation got taken off the air to make way for that stupid show, Outsourced.

But the part about Outsourced was what happened when it was all done! You see, the next show was The Apprentice, with Donald Trump. At the beginning of the episode Donald Trump gave a speech about the recession in which he spent the whole time congratulating himself for single-handedly fixing the economy by hosting his reality show. As you can expect, it made me lose all faith in humanity. And the fact that I had to wait until the next show to lose all faith in humanity just makes me feel so warm inside.


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