Thursday, February 10, 2011

Outsourced/NBC (2010)



Being the first American sitcom with a predominantly Indian cast was not going to be an easy thing to pull off and judging from the first episode it looked like 'Outsourced' would be an epic fail. Like most Indian people here, I tuned in and for the first few episodes I was mostly... indifferent. Granted, it was nice to have a show I could call my own considering the only two other prominent Indian figures on TV were Apu from 'The Simpsons' (voiced by Hank Azaria!) and Raj from 'The Big Bang Theory' (playing the stereotypical Indian physics whiz). But even before 'Outsourced' had even aired a single episode, it was derided by nearly every (American) reviewer for being "racist" and "trite". Although I have never noticed anything outwardly racist (the name Manmeet is amusing even if you are an Indian that grew up here), early on the show just wasn't that funny. But then an interesting thing happened - the show found it's sweet/quirky groove, the characters came into their own and 'Outsourced' quickly became a favorite of mine. Preview below



When 'Good Times' came out in 1974 it received much of the same criticism that is being levied at 'Outsourced' today but then as now, the sentiment of the people it portrayed was basically the same - it may not be perfect but at least it's a start. The first few episodes of 'Outsourced' did get a little too much into the whole fish out of water "wow your culture is SO weird" but you know what? The two cultures are very different and while that may be glaringly obvious to me it may not be to others. The show never strays too far from it's comedic roots but over the past few weeks has given the viewers short but insightful introductions to: Diwali, arranged marriages, Indian food, paan, Bollywood, socially inappropriate touching, trains and Indian vs American mentality when it comes to work. The employees in 'Outsourced' genuinely love their jobs, unlike the employees at my other Thursday night TV staple 'The Office'. And at the end of the day their American boss (Todd) learns something about India and his employees learn something about America. Nothing earth shattering but quite endearing nonetheless...



But as they say, the devil is in the details and the fact that they get the music just right in all the episodes showed me that they really are putting some time and effort on the show. A variety of great Bollywood songs are playing in the background on nearly every street scene and in the latest episode on board a train Chaiyya Chaiyya is playing in the background followed immediately by The Monkees song Last Train to Clarksville. Not only that but the audience is introduced to the concept of 'Ladies Only' train cars, professional gropers and a little Hindi thrown in just for authenticity. Below is the song for the day and represents the SECOND time a song by my favorite singer was used in an American sitcom. Considering Kishore Kumar passed away nearly 25 years ago, it's safe to say his legacy is alive and well in Bollywood as well as in Hollywood. Below you will find the clip in which 'Gupta' is having a Bollywood daydream to Bachna Ae Haseeno sung by the master himself originally from the movie 'Hum Kisise Kum Naheen'.

Video

7 comments:

maxqnz said...

What a great review of the series, and thanks for feeling the same way I do about the music. I burst out laughing at the incongruity of Gupta dancing to Bachna Ae Haseeno and hearing Chaiyya Chaiyya in the train scene. As you say, the music choices show that a lot of thought is gonig into this show, the flashcard sequences in the latest episode were a nice example of that "mutual learning" you mentioned. Now that it is finding its feet, I hope this show gets to stick around a bit longer.

Sanket Vyas said...

Thanks for the kind words and good to see that someone else is appreciating the music on this series. I LOVE GUPTA and everything he does pretty much has me laughing out loud. Glad they didn't do the obvious Todd/Asha romance angle and let the characters find their own way... Hopefully this series sticks around as it is hitting it's stride.

Lauren said...

Thanks for such an in depth and fantastic review of one of my new favorite shows. I loved when they played chaiya chaiya while trying to board the trains! It was also funny to hear someone singing rooth na jaana from 1942 a love story at the talent search.
My only complaint about this review is that I was so distracted reading it that my son managed to feed one of my dogs a crayon. ; )
We need to get Sandhya to watch!

Sanket Vyas said...

Lauren - glad you are enjoying this show as much as I am. Again, awesome use of music and it's one of the main reasons I look forward to the show. Sandhya watches alot of tv and not sure why she chooses to ignore this little gem - maybe cuz she knows if her parents hadn't moved to America she would have ended up as Madhuri on the show? As far as your dog goes... I think green poop will be hilarious :)

Sarita said...

I hadn't heard about Outsourced. I'll have to check it out!

Anonymous said...

its a fantastic show...i luv it...its sad it will not b continued for another season...but i loved...i hope NBC reconsiders....any idea how i can get all d music from the show??

Sanket Vyas said...

Unfortunately NBC has finalized it's decision not to renew but you can find all the music that was used on the show at the following link. Cheers!
http://www.nbc.com/outsourced/music/