I”ll do a longer post on NBC’s Outsourced in a week or two (yes, I am planning to watch a few more episodes). For now, here’s my review – an edited collection of my tweets as I watched last night.
9:30 pm: Just in time. Finished reading review of #Outsourced in the NYTimes. Two sentences in particular make me optimistic: “the jokes change in tandem with the world’s balance of power,” and ?Outsourced is a comedy about Indian capitalism that mostly makes fun of American decline.”
5 minutes in: so far, Manmeet (“man meat”) aside, the jokes have been meh, but not too bad. But what’s with the color scheme in the office? *aaagh*
10 minutes in: Struck by how terrible the music has been. A Panjabi MC number can be justified, kind of. But the title song of “Omkara,” a Bollywood film about Hindi heartland politics?
White dude in a garish call-center office, and the song goes “sabse bade ladaiyya re…” (“the most bad-ass fighter in the land”)? Seriously?
12 minutes in: I’ve decided I’ll stick with the show for at least 3-4 episodes.
15 minutes in: This Rajiv character fits the “sly native” stereotype, no? And Madhuri the diffident brown woman who becomes the white guy’s project? *Sigh* What to do. It’s hard to completely let go of po-co jargon.
20 minutes in: Is #Outsourced struggling to write past stereotypes? Yes. Offensive? Not really. Not yet, at least.
25 minutes in: someone should write about accents. Thinking of Shilpa Dave’s article “Apu’s Brown Voice: Cultural inflection and South Asian accents” (in this anthology)
End of show: Above all, #Outsourced is problematic b’cos it is a step backwards where American TV’s imagination of Desi identity and culture is concerned. Instead of building on The Office (Mindy Kaling), Parks & Recreation (Aziz Ansari), and other shows, this one fails to imagine and explore Desi culture and identity *within* the U.S.
Once again, Desis are positioned elsewhere. The very idea of Desi is outsourced.
p.s. no longer sure what that NYTimes reviewer saw.