Outsourced, "The Measure of a Manmeet": losing its novelty

Quick Take: Outsourced, "The Measure of a Manmeet"
"I'm sorry Tammy, we have to put our romance on hold. Estimated wait time... forever." - Manmeet


Review: Outsourced, "The Measure of a Manmeet"
(S0102) Last Thursday I took a stand. I went out on a limb and tried to defend a show that critics I respect had accused of being a "terrible mess," "sloppy," and even "xenophobic." At the possible expense of my reputation, I admitted to laughing a couple of times at Outsourced, the pariah of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup. I'm sure my colleagues at TV Geek Army are questioning the wisdom of inviting me join their site. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for lowbrow comedy and ethnic stereotypes.

I recognize that some of the venom Outsource evokes is due to the fact that show is in the time slot previously occupied by critical darling Parks & Recreation, whose return has been inexplicably pushed to mid-season. NBC is clearly idiotic for not premiering P&R (in my opinion, the network's funniest show) with Community, 30 Rock and The Office, but that is no reason to take your anger out on its replacement. I didn't hate the pilot of Outsourced mainly because everyone else seemed to, so my expectations were low going in. I yukked it up at a few of the stupid jokes and didn't completely hate any of the characters (with the possible exception of Todd, the main character), so my expectations were exceeded. I want to make it clear that I don't think Outsourced is a particularly good show and after seeing the second episode it is obvious that the writers are losing steam and running out of material already. However, I also don't think the show really deserved all of the vitriol it was getting from critics. Hell, I would rather watch any of the characters on this show than that Indian guy Timmy on that awful CBS show Rules of Engagement (what a waste of Puddy and Megyn Price).

For those of you who missed (intentionally, or otherwise) last week's pilot, Outsourced is about a guy, Todd (Ben Rappaport), who is forced to relocate to India to manage the call center for a company that sells novelty items (i.e. fake poo, cheese head hats, toilet bowl-shaped coffee cups, etc.). His employees are mostly misfits or crude Indian stereotypes, or both. They are eager to learn about America and its people while teaching Todd a little something about Indian culture along the way.

Most of the jokes in Outsourced revolve around food that causes diarrhea, sacred cows, turbans, funny accents, and difficult to pronounce names. They aren't exactly reinventing the comedy wheel, but some of the jokes in the pilot were pretty funny, in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way. Unfortunately, the second episode was hardly funny at all, save for a bit where Charlie (Diedrich Bader), the bitter manager of a different call center, admits to Todd that he hasn't bothered to learn any of his employee's names. Instead he has given them all nicknames based on their physical appearance. There is Frodo, Morpheus, Indiana Jones (because he once wore a hat) and his personal favorite, Roger Ebert.

The second episode, "The Measure of a Manmeet," finds Todd jonesing for some barbecue. You know, 'cuz he's sick of all that "yellow gloppy stuff" and "brown lumpy stuff." Manmeet suggests that he could probably get a steak at one of the fancier hotels in Mumbai and the two begin planning a dinner and a night on the town. Their plans are interrupted by Jerry (Matt Walsh of the Upright Citizens Brigade), Todd's boss, who complains that sales are down and demands that someone must be fired.

As rumors about the pending axing swirl what follows is pretty typical workplace sitcom fare; awkward performance reviews, eavesdropping, paranoia. When Todd discovers that Manmeet has been spending his work days flirting with American house fraus instead of pimping whoopee cushions, he tells him he has until the end of the week to improve his sales numbers or he's gone. Manmeet, eager to please as ever, promises to buckle down and make some sales, but first he has to call all of his lady-friends and break off all of his long-distance phone relationships. "I'm sorry Tammy, we have to put our romance on hold. Estimated wait time... forever."

Todd is upset because he is going to have to fire his friend before they even got a chance to pig out on steaks together, but Manmeet puts his dulcet tones and trustworthy cadence to good use and sells a bunch of products to his ladies as he is dumping them. By the end of the night, he has sold so much merchandise that the company can afford to keep everyone and Todd does not have to fire anyone. Phwew, thank god. Dodged a bullet there, I don't know what I would have done if they had fired Gupta.

Video: Outsourced, "The Measure of a Manmeet"
Check out this behind the scenes called Meet Manmeet (yeah... I know), from Hulu: 

By Lucas High

About the author

Lucas High is a man on a mission. That mission: to watch television for a living. Drop him a line at lhigh2@gmail.com, on Facebook and on Twitter at twitter.com/LucasHigh.

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On: Friday, October 1, 2010
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Lucas, I think it's brave to take a stand, even if of this sort of. Any form of publishing for public consumption is "putting yourself out there," inviting oneself to criticism, etc. So that alone makes it easy to go with the flow and ignore those pangs of honesty. I like that you were able to admit here that certain aspects of the pilot appealed to you, but then also made a clearheaded assessment of the show's flaws. 

I reviewed No Ordinary Family earlier in the week and went through a similar-ish process. I really enjoyed the show (perhaps I'm blinded by a strong case of Chiklis-fan boy-ese, who knows?), and most critics did not, even if they didn't bare their fangs as some did with regard to Outsourced. 

On: Friday, October 1, 2010
Stephanie said:

As always you nailed it and in such an entertaining way.  You continue to be more entertaining than any show on t.v.!!!  This show is better than many considering I don't "do" forensics or murder mysteries which seem to dominate the show schedule.  It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick...good for a couple of giggles...which is, sadly, pretty good these days.  Are you watching The Event?  I'll check your other article to confirm but we're liking it.  They say it's like Lost had a baby with 24, neither of which I ever watched.  But we started with this and I like the "thought provoking" part though I will only use so much brain power on trying to figure it out and will just go along for an exciting ride. 

On: Sunday, October 3, 2010
SLW said:

Love it. Congrats!!!!


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