On paper, NBC’s “Outsouced” is the sitcom I’ve always wanted. Not since Margaret Cho’s “All American Girl” have we seen a predominantly Asian cast on American television. Well, there was “Vanishing Son,” but nobody remembers that one. Anyway, yes, “Outsourced” should be something I lose my shit over. On a tick list of things that I’d want in an Asian sitcom, this ticks them all: predominantly Asian cast, airs on prime-time, explores Asian culture in a non-exploitive manner (kinda. This point can be argued, but I think they actually do a good job), potential interracial dating. So far, so good.
So why is it so hard for me to get into this damn show?!
I didn’t make it through the first episode of “Outsourced” when it aired. Every week, I try to stick with it. I usually have the tube on Thursdays for NBC’s comic block while I’m working on the comic. And even then, I just can’t sit through an entire episode. I usually make it half way through “Outsourced” before I click it off the idiot box and click on my Old Time Radio.
The thing is, I love a majority of the cast. I love the setting. The soundtrack is really fun. But it doesn’t work. And after trying to sit through this first season unsuccessfully, I’ve pinpointed what keeps me from enjoying a full episode. Todd Dempsy.
Todd Dempsy is our viewpoint character. He’s just like us, an average American who doesn’t know jack shit about Indian culture. Okay, so he’s nothing like me. Nor is he anything like anyone I’ve ever met, ever. But I’ve never been to Kansas City so who knows, he might be exactly like everyone there. Which would mean that everyone from there is deadly boring. I don’t know if it’s the writing or if its the way Ben Rappaport portrays him, but Todd is seriously the most boring person on television. There’s nothing memorable about him. He’s so bland, so milquetoast, so not there that I had to fucking look up his name because I forgot it!
Now I understand that the producers wanted to treat the subject matter with reverence. They didn’t want this show to be written off as racist buffoonery. And it really feels like they’ve taken the time to get familiar with Indian culture. But they’ve created a viewpoint character who’s so inoffensive, he’s practically invisible. And yet he’s the focus of every episode that I’ve tried to sit through. Honestly, I’d rather enjoy the show if he wasn’t there at all. I mean, even giving him a sexy blonde Australian chick to date who flashes his brother on the internet fails to make him interesting.
Goddamn, you’re so goddamn close “Outsourced.” I so want to like you. Just get rid of the boring dude and focus on the rest of the cast. Send him back to Kansas City already and get on with the show!