In a Racist League of His Own

Article excerpt

Byline: Joshua Alston

NBC's outsourced may not have premiered with the deafening hubbub of a Boardwalk Empire or a Lone Star, but it was, in its way, the rookie show up against the most pressure. It not only bumped the critically adored Parks and Recreation out of NBC's Thursday-night comedy block and took up residence in the cushy 9:30 slot that once housed Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier, it hardly seemed (on paper, at least) to be a worthy addition to the once "must see" schedule. Outsourced follows the office hijinks of Todd Dempsy (Ben Rappaport), an American charged with leading a ragtag group at a call center in Mumbai, where he must train and motivate his team while sidestepping cross-cultural faux pas. It's the sort of concept that portends staid, perhaps even offensive jokes, such as the tech-support person whose accent suggests that, despite her claims, her name is probably not Meredith. But Outsourced isn't remotely spicy, or even terribly funny. It's got nowhere near as many laughs as what's arguably the most racist show on television.

Maybe it's because of the limitations of network television, but Outsourced manages to stumble into obvious jokes about the differences between American and Indian culture (Don't eat the food--it'll give you diarrhea!) while circumventing anything really subversive. The show doing that job is HBO's Eastbound & Down, which is in the middle of its second hors d'oeuvre-sized season. Eastbound continues to document the endless rise-fall-rise-plummet cycle of disgraced baseball pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride), who, after abandoning his high-school sweetheart, inexplicably decides to relocate to Mexico. If there's a gringo least suited to a move south of the border, it's Kenny, whose attitude toward people of different races leads him to make comments like "Even though you're Mexican, you seem normal to me" and "I see the look on your faces. …