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Hipsters Hating on Outsourced

There isn’t a show this season that has been more relentlessly and undeservedly hated than Outsourced. It’s a successful series that was bullied out of its timeslot by the same people who are now trying to push it into cancellation. Because NBC isn’t supposed to have anything but Office/30 Rock/Parks and Recreation/Community and the same bunch of yuppie hipster oriented TV.

Most of the hatred coming Outsourced’s way comes out of the entitlement of that audience, whose own fave shows rate poorly, but resented Outsourced because it took the mediocre Parks and Recreation’s timeslot. And did better in it than Parks and Recreation had. Outsourced was pushed into a death slot, but the hate still continues.

Outsourced isn’t a great show, but as a half-hour comedy, it’s decent. It’s not stocked with SNL trash like Amy Poehler or Chevy Chase or hipster fave comedians. Its cast is mostly non-white. So are its writers. It was an attempt by NBC to do something different and it worked surprisingly well. Outsourced is light on its feet, tells stories easily and actually takes you somewhere different than another office full of awkward white people and their minority sidekicks. (Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock.) So of course it must die.

Read through the attacks on Outsourced and they’re irrational. Accusations of racism by people who admit they never watched the show. But you know what’s not racist. Killing the only minority centric TV show on NBC to make way for another Office clone.

NPR’s Stupid Outsourced Rant

It’s amazing reading articles from people who sit through dingy episode after episode of 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation, but treat watching Outsourced like a priest going to a whorehouse. They make a point of telling you how much they’re lowering themselves by even talking about it. The Onion’s piece was bad enough. NPR’s Marc Hirsh is even worse. The smugness just rolls off the page like sweat off a fat guy.

First a comparison of Outsourced to Doritos. We get it. You’re too good for junk food. Then the obligatory salaaming for 30 Rock. We’re get it, you’re elite. And then the stupid begins. I’m going to cut out most of it to get to the criticisms.

It depicts American culture in the stupidest possible terms… Outsourced’s Todd (the manager of the call center, played by Ben Rappaport) talks about these bits of useless crap as though they’re the basic currency of American culture, rather than silly items used for coarse humor. The show doesn’t say, “Yes, a bell that you ring to announce that you’re horny is dumb, but it makes people laugh, and that’s why we sell it.” It says, “The sex bell is one of the things that makes American great and free.” It’s presenting worthless marginalia as societal cornerstones.

Because… you know funny. Just like 30 Rock and The Office exaggerate for comedic effect. Or Stan on American Dad.

Presenting worthless marginalia as societal cornerstones? Way to channel your inner Armond White. Also why isn’t The Office about the quest for world peace. And why were Darren and Samantha so obsessed with advertising, instead of fighting for civil rights? Why?

A show where there’s a joke about gag gifts being the American way, now hates America or something. Thanks for the Glenn Beck analysis of a 3 second bit of a half hour comedy on the tail end of NBC’s schedule.

Indian culture is constantly viewed as though it’s in the wrong.

Okay so now Outsourced doesn’t just hate America, it hates India too! Except the writers are mostly Indian. And it’s a show about cultural misunderstandings viewed from both sides. The American and Indian characters are baffled by each other’s oddities.

In many episodes, Todd comes face to face with some aspect of Indian society that he doesn’t understand (such as arranged marriage and simple physical contact like shoulder-touching) and spends the rest of the episode trying to convince everyone else that the American way is better. What’s worse, he often succeeds… Essentially, the show’s main character thinks India would be a whole lot better if it were exactly like the United States, instead of, say, India.

This isn’t completely wrong, but it’s not really true either.

Todd is aggressively clueless, but he rarely convinces anyone that the American way is best. Shoulder touching is a custom that he freaks about and learns to avoid. Arranged marriage is questioned not just by Americans, but by Indians. But the American hook ups of Todd and then Mahnmeet are shown to be dead ends.

The show never comes down on either side. Instead it shows both sides learning about each other.

In fact, in one of the more curious developments around this show, I can tell you – purely anecdotally – the most ardent fans that I’ve found are people of Indian descent. (Yes, that’s written by a writer on the show, but she discusses this phenomenon anecdotally herself.) And it’s not simply a matter of “Yay, we’re on TV!” (For that, they’d simply have to turn to The Office, 30 Rock, The Good Wife, Parks And Recreation, The Big Bang Theory, etc.) The attitude seems to be that Indians are a self-deprecating bunch and that it’s silly to be offended even when the point seems to be that Indian culture is stupid/funny/wrong,

See this is why I hate white liberals. In one paragraph, Marc Hirsh manages to be more racist and clueless than the show he’s attacking.

Indians like Outsourced. Obviously they’re too filled with self-hate to know what’s good for them. They should go watch positive depictions of themselves on Big Bang Theory, where the Indian character is borderline psychotic, repressed, can’t talk to women and whose culture is used as a punch line every time. And whose land is mocked in almost every episode.

Please, why won’t those desis listen to Marc Hirsh. He knows what’s good for them.

It’s not a funny show.

It’s as funny as The Office or the rest of the bunch. The jokes come more from the character interplay, just like on the Office, than from classic setups and punchlines.

Where Outsourced goes wrong is in implicitly sympathizing with its main character. If Todd’s objectionable attitude dug him deeper and deeper, you’d have a show that had some of the same uncomfortable and/or dark humor of The Office or Arrested Development.

And why does a show have to be dark and uncomfortable? Not everything has to be cringe comedy. Since cringe comedy isn’t even very funny.

Also The Office sympathized with Michael way too much.

(Imagine if Arrested Development assumed that Gob was the hero.)

It would have been a much better show. Michael Bluth’s whining was constantly annoying. Tobias would have been better than Gob though.

Alternatively, if he was the one trying to adjust to his new surroundings (instead of trying to adjust his new surroundings to him), then you’d have a show maybe a little bit like Community, where he’s forced to be somewhere he doesn’t really want to be but has to make the most of it, even if it’s a struggle sometimes.

That’s something audiences can sympathize with, they’re not into watching Community either.

The writing is lazy and ham-handed. It uses every cheap trick that every bad sitcom has ever used. Right from the start, there might as well have been a giant flashing arrow over Asha (Rebecca Hazlewood) that read “THIS IS THE WOMAN THAT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS GOING TO FALL FOR, RIGHT HERE.”

Which is different from The Office how? Hey that Will Ferrell appearance last week was so nuanced. And Pam, who knew that was coming.

And would you believe that a character’s bachelor party results in his bride-to-be and her stern father walking in at the most compromising moment? It’s just so tiring. For me, that is. Clearly not for the writers.

Sure, I’m not one of those Doritos eating morons. I’m sophisticated. I like my comedy to be completely unpredictable. Like when Michael does something wacky every episode for seven years. Who can predict what he’ll do and that it will go wrong? No one! Absolutely no one.

And when Dwight shows up to work with a gun, can anyone predict that he’ll blow his manager position by discharging it in the office. No one. Because even though he’s gotten in trouble for using weapons in the office before and Chekov ‘s old gun adage remains, it’s fresh and original.

And yet, here I am. I’m so fascinated by how aggressively, angrily bad Outsourced was able to go that it’s mesmerizing in an utter-trainwreck sort of way. There’s not one thing about it that works, and yet, there it is, chugging along, with so many people involved in keeping it moving in the hopes that eventually something will spark. They’ve been basically pushing a dead car along the road, figuring that maybe if they pop the clutch just one more time, it’ll start up. And in the meantime, they’re killing themselves pushing.

Better known as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community. Hey if we talk up this crap some more, maybe somebody who doesn’t work in advertising in New York will finally tune in.

Prize for reading the comments where a few asians show up to defend the show, to be smugly told by the white NPR folks that they’re too stupid and ignorant to know what’s good for them.

Yuppies vs Italian-Americans

Explosive center: the Gennaro festival. Flip back to Mean Streets, with a pre-Fockers Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel’s Charlie hating on the festival. But that was the neighborhood. Today the better nabes of Brooklyn and Manhattan are swarming with yuppies and yuppie wannabes. Little Italy has gotten littler and boutiques are upstaging Italian butchers. And the festivities are still in everyone’s way.

The debate hasn’t gotten any smarter since. Critics keep making racist jibes about “greasy Italians”. Especially when they’re not real yuppies, but like Ying Ying Chong, wannabe yuppies. The children of immigrants rushing to get in on the gentrification express.

“They come in with greasy hands” and stain the leather handbags and $300 dresses, said Ying Ying Chong, owner of White Saffron. Despite foot traffic of 100,000 people a day, “it’s not our target clientele,” Ying sniffed.

The target clientele are yuppies. The people who moved to the area because they read Allen Ginsberg while high, and now want 300 dollar handbags. And the immigrant kids like Ying Ying Chong (who according to her linkedin prof speaks basic Italian, but doesn’t like actual Italians because they’re not the target clientele for her dresses and handbags) want them gone.

But New York City is full of festivals that annoy people. Why is there a Puerto Rican Day parade down an area where there aren’t a whole lot of Puerto Ricans. And unlike the Gennaro fest, the PR parade has a lot more collateral damage to people, not 300 dollar dresses. And what about the St Patrick’s Day parade with its alcoholic hooliganism. The protests and counter-protests surrounding the Columbus and Israel day parades.

Little Italy doesn’t have all that many Italians, but it’s still a part of the big ethnic mosaic of the city. Parades and festivals that annoy everyone else are part of that picture too. We’re not out to turn New York City into Seattle, with a Borders and a Starbucks on every corner and no history at all. Or a long string of boutiques. The festival may be annoying, but in all its messy ugliness, it’s more New York than the White Saffron is.

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