“Outsourced” TV Show Highlights India’s Call Centers

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When Ken Kwapis, American film and television director, created the situational comedy “Outsourced,” he thought call centers based in India can be a novel and workable idea for a new television series. This resulted to the creation of the program that was aired on NBC channel from September 2010 up to May 2011.

The concept of the comedy show revolves in a corporate workplace where various office characters and dynamics are connected and interrelated. It also exposes the dynamic issues and culture clash between two countries —the United States and India. The show was set entirely in Mumbai, with a cast comprised by Ben Rappaport, Rizwan Manji, Sacha Dhawan, Rececca Hazlewood, Parvesh Cheena, Anisha Nagarajan, Diedrich Bader, and Pippa Black.

The show was broadcasted many times in television networks across the United States and in various countries, such as Canada, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Australia, Fiji, Brazil, New Zealand, Philippines, Norway, South Africa, Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Malaysia, Italy, Czech Republic, Middle East, and Latin America.

Apart from the seemingly worldwide airing, the show also received various citations and nominations. The “Outsourced” TV show was nominated in 2011 as Favorite New TV Comedy by the People’s Choice Awards as well as the Best Performance by the NAMIC Vision Awards.

What it is all about

Basically, the show tells a story about how an American novelties company has decided to outsource its order processing. This company consequently sets up a call center in India that was managed by an American business executive named Todd Dempsy.

At work, Todd needs to deal with Indian employees under him and their way of life in Mumbai. At the same time, he also needs to explain to them the intricacies of American pop culture in a funny and hilarious portrayal of cross-cultural situations.

Most of the episodes demonstrate the typical life of men and women who are trained to work as call center agents as they learn American slang and customs in just a few weeks. In due time, they are able to develop their ability to speak clearly with an American accent. They also learned to listen to English-speaking callers who seek for solutions to a wide array of problems. Moreover, they need to make a sales pitch for American novelty merchandise, some of which they have not heard of before.

Racist Accusations

The show gained mixed reactions from an array of audiences. In a 2010 report by Andrew Buncombe of “The Independent,” critics claimed that the “Outsourced” TV show is “insensitive and even racist about Indians”.

“Whether or not the series is insensitive or racist, the producers have certainly chosen a controversial topic.” Buncombe stated. “The issue of outsourcing back-office jobs from the West to destinations in the developing world remains hugely sensitive, both in the United States, where politicians are under pressure to save jobs, and in India, which is worried about outsourcing drying up. President Obama has advocated cutting tax incentives to American firms that outsource jobs.”

Negative comments are pouring in, though. Some critics even argue that the people behind “Outsourced” TV show are insensitive for tackling a rather touchy issue at a time when thousands of Americans are losing their jobs to outsourcing, a reality that many are not happy about.