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Outsourced a workplace comedy

Outsourced, The Big Bang Theory, and Parks and Recreation all have fun concepts, but I didn’t think Middle America would give them a chance. So begrudgingly, I admit I was late to the party on some of these top-rated shows. In this ongoing series I will take a look at current sitcoms that I gave a second chance too, and maybe you might want to as well.

First up: Outsourced.

Outsourced is an NBC sitcom based on a 2006 movie by the same name, set in Mumbai India. This fish-out-of-water tale gives us the standard culture clash of East meets West. Outsourced follows Todd Dempsey’s (played by Ben Rappaport) new life in India. A manager for Mid American novelties, Todd must help his Indian employees learn American cultural while he struggles to understand theirs.

The call center Todd works at is ripe with a collection of characters, starting with the conniving assistant manager Rajive who constantly schemes to take over Todd’s job. Rizwan Manji who plays Rajive has some of the best lines and reactions. In “A Sitar is Born,” Rajive eagerly shows up to watch a fellow employee perform at a talent concert, and is thrilled that he is not too late to see his dreams dashed.

Next is Gupta, a call center operator who is chatty, attention-seeking and a little like Lou Costello. Some of Gupta’s best work can be seen in the dance number, also from “A Sitar is Born.” But each week Parvesh Cheena who plays Gupta delivers a delightfully funny and trying character.

Madhuri is the quiet, soft spoken counterpart to Gupta. She supports her whole family with her job at the call center. Anisha Nagarajian’s wide eye expressions add a level of quiet comedy to her performance.

Then there is Manmeet, also a call center operator. He loves American culture and women, and seeks to be Todd’s best friend. In the episode entitled “The Todd Couple” we get a chance to see how much he loved American women when he tries to have a valentine cyber date with two different women at the same time on side-by-side computers.

Three other characters round out the main cast. Another call center operator Asha, played by Rebecca Hazelwood, offers the audience a chance to see an Indian woman deal with her future arranged marriage. Diedrich Bader of The Drew Cary show plays Charlie Davies another American manager, and Todd’s best friend. Charlie loves hunting, doesn’t understand Indian culture, and surrounds himself in all things American. Then there is Todd’s current love interest Tonya a call center manager from Australia. She has spent more time in India than Todd and seems to be the bubbly voice of reason for him.

When first hearing about Outsourced, I thought America wouldn’t want to watch a show about jobs going to India. However, it was one of the stronger freshman programs for NBC. Now I see why. The episodes are cleverly written and the cast is sharp and inviting. The audience gets to learn a little about India and that people are just people and funny is funny, no matter what country you’re in.

Look for outsourced on NBC’s Thursday night, following 30 Rock.

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