Sailaja N. Joshi

Outsourced: A comedy about inclusion or assimilation?

In Anthropology, Asian-Indian Americans, India, NBC, United States on September 23, 2010 at 11:21 am


So, early in my Le Sigh Blogging career I talked about the inclusion of other ethnicities aka D-List Minorities in the marketing conversation. One of my readers made the point of noting that you know you’re part of a society once you start being made fun of. Well, it seems like Outsourced may just do that.

I ranted earlier this Summer about how the show just missed the mark in terms of inclusion. While its writers claim it is an “Office-like” comedy, I find that hard to believe. Even the promotional poster makes a point of putting the white actor in the foreground, while the Indian actors hang out in the back.

More than a comedy about including Indians as part of the conversation, this comedy is about assimilation. Simply put, it looks as though a white guy ends up in India and comedy, confusion and love ensue.

Here is the big question on my mind, should we Asian-Indian Americans applaud the fact that we’re part of this picture at all? Should we get excited and “tune in,” simply because there are some Indian actors in this show?

Maybe, but I like to think that our society can progress much further. I cannot predict whether Outsouced will be a hit or a miss, but I can say it is far from inclusive of the D-List minorities. Being inclusive of D-List minorities would mean including an Indian character in one of the many Doctor Drama shows that are out there, or perhaps even a Jewish doctor.

There are so many stereotypes of Indians. Most of them have to do with us being dorks, studying a lot and then becoming some sort of doctor or engineer. We’re also really bad at anything athletic (save maybe tennis) and our version of the Olympics is actually what most people call the National Spelling Bee.

My point is, there are a lot of Indian Stereotypes. None of which (seem) to be addressed in the comedy Outsourced.  So, let’s call Outsourced what it truly is, a comedy about assimilation.

  1. Is inclusion something that we need to strive for? I get excited when Indians play more prominent roles in my favorite TV shows too, but what tangible benefits do Indians gain as a people because Kal Penn was on House? It is surprising how few shows/books/movies there are about minorities and that don’t use race and cultural differences as their main focus. There are lots of people out there who look Asian or Indian, but their connection to the culture of their ancestors is becoming more tenuous as time goes on, and definitely with younger generations. Does anybody care if you are Indian if you don’t make a big deal of it?

    Also, way to proofread, wife đŸ™‚

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