NBC hopes outsourcing is "in" with TV audiences
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The controversial practice of outsourcing jobs to India has inspired a new comedy on U.S. TV in a striking departure from the dysfunctional families and romantic entanglements that typically make Americans laugh.
"Outsourced" is centered around a fictional American maker of novelty goods -- fake pools of blood, farting garden gnomes and giant fake cheese slices -- that has moved it customer service center to the bustling city of Mumbai.
A naive young American is sent overseas to manage the new set-up, proving fertile ground for jokes about everything from differences in food to cultural clashes regarding sex, dress and attitudes toward women.
"We have all had the experience of talking on the phone to someone in a call center in India. That's what makes the show so relatable. We are trying to put a face on the person at the other end of the line," executive producer Ken Kwapis told reporters on Friday.
Kwapis brushed aside suggestions from some TV writers who have seen the first episode that the show stereotypes, or is offensive to, Indians. American audiences will get to see the comedy for the first time in mid-September.
"It is certainly not coming from a mean spirited place. A third of the writing staff is Indian," he said. "I think there is a way to treat cultural confusion without being offensive."
The comedy has a large cast of British and U.S. actors with Indian heritage but is shot in a Los Angeles TV studio. Producers said it was too expensive to shoot the show in India but said they were sending a small unit to Mumbai to film slices of street life to be incorporated into the show.
"We want our audience to feel they are transported to India," Kwapis said.
Actor Rizwan Manji, who plays the ambitious assistant manager Rajiiv Gidwani, said he was happy to be part of the show.
"My friends and family have seen the trailer and the show and they are very supportive and find it hilarious and quite accurate," Manji said.
And actress Anisha Nagarajan, who plays the painfully shy, sari-wearing employee Madhuri, said her relatives were just "excited to see such a large contingent of Indian actors on (U.S.) television."
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing Bob Tourtellotte)
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