Review: NBC’s Outsourced
September 23rd, 2010
Considering how terrible Outsourced – debuting tonight at 9:30/8:30c on NBC – is, we need to ask ourselves the question: where did this go wrong?
While it awfulness perhaps pushes us to suggest that it was simply a terrible idea from the very beginning, I think there was comedy to be mined here. I think, for example, there is potential in the idea of setting a comedy within an Indian call center which deals with American customers, investigating how the Americanization of their workplace influences their cultural heritage. There’s also theoretical potential in looking at how an outsider struggles to adapt to Indian culture after being shipped there against his will.
Outsourced lives up to none of this potential, however, largely because there is not an ounce of depth within its characters or its narrative. It is, like Mid America Novelties itself, interested in novelty and little else, sacrificing any of the complexities of this situation in favour to getting down to what really matters: feces, broad stereotypes, and cultural imperialism.
“Alright Guys, We’re At War!”
March 22nd, 2009
The worst kind of Amazing Race leg are the ones where nothing happens: the good teams are good, the annoying teams are annoying, and everything goes according to plan with the weak teams lagging behind and the strong teams rocketing forward. On the surface, this could seem like one of those episodes, where the leading teams don’t really change and where the outcome is one we could have predicted before the leg began.
But there’s been some subtle changes that have made this a better race to watch, and this leg continued that trend: teams that seemed to fade into the background before are becoming more distinct, while a team that was once impossible to watch has become more charmingly than frustratingly annoying. It’s not that the poverty and chaos of India immediately makes teams more likeable, and there’s a few instances of Ugly Americanism, but something about these teams are making them a really competitive and interesting group to watch.
So, despite nothing major going down, a building leg for the race.
“My Nose is On Fire”
November 9th, 2008
I’ve heard a few people noting that there has been a disconnect this year between viewers and the racers who are running around the world this season on The Amazing Race. And I think it’s not wrong: I’m enjoying it, and the challenges have been good, but there’s been a few barriers to entry so to speak.
And this episode was very aware of that, because its real stars were the various locals who dominated the proceedings. Whether it was the guy at the sewing machine who pushes people away and gives thumbs down, or the festival revelers who threw paint and water at the racers during the roadblock, or the genius that was the Pit Stop Greeter running back to water the grounds as soon as he has said hello to the team in question.
It makes for an episode that actually featured some really interesting gameplay shifts and the continued proof that, eventually, poor racing is going to catch up with you. That’s a solid lesson for the show, and it’s been a season where, with five teams left, the teams who are performing the worst are the ones who are going home.
So if it isn’t lighting a fire, so to speak, I’d argue that the show is right within its wheelhouse nonetheless.
“Please Hold While I Singe My Skull”
November 2nd, 2008
Returning from the grave we hoped he had stayed in, tonight’s sixth leg of The Amazing Race saw the return of obnoxious, demanding, and in many ways downright unreasonable Terence. In a season where villains are luckily in short supply, it is very clear that he is the one exception, his bullying of Sarah reaching some new lows tonight.
And I don’t think he’s an awful human being by any stretch of the imagination: I just think that these two are in a new relationship, have very different personalities, and are discovering that this race is not meant for his demeanor in particular. As he fights to get Sarah to do exactly what he wants at a well-planned roadblock, at no point do we get the desired moment of self-realization: instead, he only shuts up when Sarah asks him to, and only for a few moments.
It’s a relationship that is being tested to the limits by this race, and even if it makes me cross my fingers for them to be absent from the finale it does demonstrate that the human qualities of this race are still in full effect.