NBC will soon debut a new sitcom called "Outsourced". I watched the trailer and thought it was quite hilarious while at the same time raising cultural and societal issues in the United States versus India. If NBC can resist the temptation to devolve the show into typical sitcom banality it could be used to raise many issues that have been largely ignored by the mainstream media such as job loss, ethnicity, national identity, and globalism.
The show is not subtle about its portrayal of Indians as clever and conniving (and willing to lie and cheat), and Americans as stupid narcissistic consumers (like the Sex and the City girls). Hopefully NBC won't go further with these insulting stereotypes.
It's not clear if Americans who are the victims of outsourcing will appreciate the humor. Time will tell when the ratings come in. Of course U.S. ratings might not tell the entire story since like most globally oriented entertainment, this show has the potential to be marketed in many places throughout the world.
If there is an ulterior motive to the show it might be discerned by considering that General Electric owns NBC. GE pioneered outsourcing and mass layoffs under the leadership of "Neutron" Jack Welch, who cleared out GE offices with the efficiency of Neutron Bombs that leave the buildings but kill the people — hence the nickname. Could the TV show be nothing but a propaganda ploy to get Americans more accepting of the dubious deceptions that goes on in outsourcing call centers?
I tried to find out how much of the TV show is produced in the U.S. versus India in order to verify or deny the irony of rumors the show is truly outsourced. The TV show depicts scenes with Indian trainees who are instructed to lie about their nationality, so it's doubtful that the production company would release accurate and reliable. Some of it is definitely filmed in California. Many of the scenes look like India but they could almost as easily be in 21st Century Silicon Valley! Is "Outsourced" made in the USA or is it in reality just another industry that has been outsourced to India?
This excerpt from the Seattle Times gives a good synopsis:
Winner of the best film award at the 2007 Seattle International Film Festival, "Outsourced" is the story of a laid-off Seattle retail manager who travels to India to train his replacement at a call center – and falls in love with a fellow employee.
"George and I always felt that the show shouldn't be a carbon copy of the movie," said Jeffcoat. "We wanted to bring it someplace else, to a modern call center. There are a lot of changes. The comedy is definitely broader than in the movie, so that's going to be interesting to see how people respond to it."
Locally made 'Outsourced' joins NBC fall lineup, Seattle Times, May 7, 2010
There is no shortage of web forums that voice disgust over "Outsourced" but not many articles have been written about the potential for backlash.
"Is NBC's 'Outsourced' Funny Or Offensive?" raises some great questions:
Will Americans laugh at a sitcom about outsourcing their jobs to India? With our country reeling from the deepest recession and the largest job losses in india-call-centerdecades? NBC certainly thinks so. The network just bet big on the premise by picking up the provocatively titled Outsourced as its first new primetime comedy series order for next season. By tackling such a touchy subject, NBC is guaranteed free publicity because of the inevitable controversy over its new comedy series. And that may distinguish it in next fall's cluttered landscape where more than 90% of new shows fail.
Use these links to go to the trailer and celebrity trivia:
DISCLAIMER: Sorry about the Jack Welch link to the World Socialist Website, but we should recognize that sometimes they offer a kernel of truth.