Outsourced hopes to walk a fine line between hilarious and offensive, but can a series about an American expat working in an Indian call center really avoid cultural stereotypes?
"I think where we approach this is certainly not a mean-spirited place," executive producer Robert Broden said. "We're not going to be wallowing in that kind of stuff that you're insinuating, but we are going to have a lot of fun with characters who behave like relatable characters in a workplace comedy."
In the series, Todd (Ben Rappaport) is forced to move halfway across the world to oversee a call center in India. Although viewers will meet most of the call center team through Todd's foreign eyes, Borden says the show is trying to find comedy in typical workplace humor as much as the cultural differences.
"I don't think we'll be indulging in stereotyping. We'll be coming at it through relatable characters. For example, Parvesh's character is modeled after that guy that everyone works with that will not stop talking to you," he said. "That's neither American nor Indian — that's how we're approaching the show."
According to producers, the focus on the culture gap goes both ways since the Indian call center is for a magazine shelling American novelty items like butt crack piggy banks, farting garden gnomes and blood puddles, just to name a few.
"There's a way to deal with cultural confusion that's not offensive to either party," executive producer and director Ken Kwapis said. "In this story, the cultural confusion is a two-way street."
But in making Indian culture, such as arranged marriage, fodder for punch lines, the big question is not only how the show will avoid offending viewers, but how it will develop a long-term strategy for success?
"The gap between the east and the west is so huge," star Sacha Dhawan said. "I think what Outsourced is doing is kind of making that gap very small and making loads of comparisons and similarities."
Outsourced premieres on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 9:30/8:30c.