A lot of people have asked me over the past year:
“What do you think of the show Outsourced?”
“Did Outsourced really depict India?”
“Is the work environment in India really like that”
In the beginning NBC had a lot of potential material to work with. Most Americans are curious about exotic India. A fascinating world of elephants, masalas, chaotic traffic patterns, and sarees…and almost every American has had the experience of call center frustrations. How are these two worlds compatible?
As frustrated as Americans are about calling a call center, most Indians who work in a call center are equally as frustrated. Long hours. working at night, dealing with rude ethnocentric people. There was A LOT of potential material that could have been used for the TV program.
I understand the “Office-like” concept of the show. Overstretching stereotypes to the point that everyone feels uncomfortable with the overly awkward dialogues. You laugh at the expense of the characters and ‘foot in mouth’ outbursts.
But the script writers ran out of intelligible content fast. Then the show digressed to blatant sexual humor, and overstretching some very untrue stereotypes. It simply became a trashy “America Pie” type of show.
I don’t know why, but I had a vague hope that this would be something that lightly poked fun at common stereotypes and helped people understand cultural differences.
Harmful Stereotypes Reinforced
From someone who lived and worked in India for a number of years….If anyone behaved like Charlie or Todd, you won’t survive.
Yes, we know that America is far more open with our lack of shame. But do we need to make each episode a moral debauchery of Americans?
Bachelor parties? An Australian mother and an American call center manager having a rendevous in plain sight on an balcony above a busy Indian market? Sleeping with the boss then bragging about it in the workplace? The blatant sexuality was too much. Even for American TV. Americans already have to deal with some Indians assuming we are all morally inferior, un-spiritual, hypocrites. Why would we air a show that projected this harmful and untrue stereotype?
As in most declining TV shows, dirty humour is used as a sad replacement for clever witty interactions. Another cheap American show filled with filth to get ratings and attempt to entertain viewers with false stereotypes.
Least Realistic/ Most Exaggerated Characters:
- Charlie– The awkward American cowboy, perverted borderline sex offender. I’m met very few of them in life. And certainly none in India.
- Tonya- Obviously she was a complete skank and too undignified to be believable. If a woman behaves like that in India without a support system, she will most likely have her ‘easy going’ attitude broken by perverts grabbers on the street, or possibly even become the victim of rape. The show portrayed her as a happy go lucky professional who seemed to bounce back from any situation. Not possible.
- Rajeev — His character was far too articulate for someone who would typically be so closed minded and money hungry. Like an Indian Michael Scott, he was far too verbally abusive to be real.
- Aasha- You will find some confused Desi women caught in the middle of a modern and traditional world, but her Indian accent was so bad it was hard to ever believe her character. Sorry Rebecca Hazlewood. Stick to British films next time.
- Todd– The football loving American boy that just wants to watch football and hook up with pretty women certainly exists, but don’t last long in India. Generally his open romantic relationships would have gotten him a lot of disrespect from subordinates rather than being the fun loving boss that the show depicted.
- Manmeet– The awkward and womanizing cassanova definitely exists. Men who want to be a stud, but not sure how. Manmeet was too openly determined and eager. You will find sneakier versions of this character in real life. People who behave this week behind closed doors, but are ashamed to openly talk about it.
Most Realistic Characters/Least Exaggerated characters
- Madhuri–The shy and naive woman is the fact that a lot of Indian woman like to put on. I found her to be one of the most loveable characters as she would occasionally let her fun side come out.
- Gupta–His character was realistic to the point is that this is how some 14 year old boys behave in India, not 30 year old men. His charming sense of humor was the only thing that kept the show going for a few months. He was a partially embodied “Michael Scott” of the show. The man that refuses to grow up.
I had hopes in the beginning….and was ashamed in the end.
The show reinforced harmful stereotypes of Indians being bobbleheaded order takers. AND Westerns being moral bottomfeeders that slept around with every living breathing human available.
This is not the message that our world needs today. Thankfully the American public is smarter than that, got bored with it, and the show got cancelled. One less cheap show with worthless content crowding the airwaves.