‘Outsourced’ Isn’t Prejudiced, But Will It Be Funny?

OutsourcedIt’s that time again. Networks are inundating viewers with previews for new fall shows, many of which look just plain awful. There’s one show that stands out from the other newbies – and not necessarily in a good way. NBC’s new Thursday night comedy, Outsourced, follows manager Todd as he moves to India to run a call center that has been, well…outsourced. (Creative title, eh?) The show’s creator, Ken Kwapis, has been under a little heat from some who say the new show is promoting prejudice, but he insists that it simply isn’t true.

Just in time for Thursday’s series premiere, Kwapis took his chance to clear the air. “Are we trying to perpetuate stereotypes? Absolutely not, we’re trying to explore them. We’re trying to humanize these characters. This is all about putting a human face on the voice at the other end of the phone line,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. He also bolstered his argument by citing positive feedback from Indian-American test audiences.

That’s all well and good. Obviously, since the show is mired in cultural differences due to its plot, most of the advertised gags focus on superficial details between the two cultures. But while I’m happy to hear that the new show (supposedly) isn’t offending anyone, it doesn’t mean it will actually be funny.

Let’s tackle the first problem – NBC created a four-minute trailer for the series that fails to elicit more than a half-grin. (Four whole minutes, and you can’t even make me giggle? Come on.) The preview introduces us to “Mid-America Novelties,” the company that outsourced the call center, and its catalog of worthless, jokey products including the typical fake dog poop and vomit, a mug shaped like a toilet, and their crowning, trashy glory: “Jingle Jugs.” (It’s quite literally a pair of animatronic boobs mounted on a plaque that should be holding a deer’s head or at least a singing big-mouth bass. Hilarious, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.) This is the overarching comedic tone for the show; lowbrow toilet humor mixed with a few mildly entertaining cultural misunderstandings. That’s it, or at least that’s all that NBC is willing to show us for now.

Then there’s the problem of longevity. The growing pains of two cultures figuring out how to coexist can only last for so long. I give it three or four episodes before they’ve run the gamut of jokes about an American in India. Once they run out of these little mix-ups, all they’ll have left is a pile of fake dog poop, and then where will they be?

Of course there’s always the possibility that I’m just blinded by my own crocodile tears over the fact that Kwapis’ latest venture is pushing the return of Parks and Rec back to midseason. There’s a miniscule chance that a four-minute trailer simply can’t convey the show’s true hilarity, and that I’ll soon be eating my words. But it won’t be that easy when it’s sandwiched between two uniquely hilarious shows like 30 Rock and Community. If Outsourced is going to survive, it had better bring it. The problem is that it doesn’t look like it’s got a whole lot to bring.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter