TCA: Is 'Outsourced' Funny Or Offensive?

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

At today’s TCA session on NBC’s Outsourced, the producers and actors made the claim that the already controversial sitcom about a U.S. company that outsourced its call center to India, serves as a “point of departure” for what is essentially a comedy about character rather than ethnicity. One questioner asked pointedly: “If a person were to say that this show traffics in a very large number of Indian stereotypes, would that person be wrong?”

“I would say wrong,” replied a slightly testy Robert Borden, executive producer with Ken Kwapis. “I think where we approach this is certainly not a mean-spirited place. A third of the writing staff is Indian. We’re not wallowing in that kind of stuff that you are insinuating, but we are going to have a lot of fun with relatable characters in a workplace comedy.” Added Kwapis: We’ve all had experience talking to someone working at a call center. What we’re trying to do is put a face to the voice at the other end of the line.”

The producers also addressed questions about whether Americans, faced with massive unemployment stateside, would find outsourcing a less than amusing subject. Replied Borden, “That’s not what the show is about. It’s workplace comedy with a big fish-out-of-water component. If there’s a little bit of risk, is that good? Yeah, I think so. “

Earlier in the day, NBC’s president of primetime entertainment Angela Bromstad said that Outsourced which is set in Mumbai but filmed at Radford Studios in Studio City, will in the future “need to make it less like an office in the Valley and more like it’s in Mumbai”. The pilot blended urban Indian exterior shots with local interiors. The producers were asked whether it would have been cheaper to shoot the series in Mumbai instead of LA. They said that perhaps in the long run – but start-up costs would have been much more expensive.

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