Tag Archives: cross-cultural

‘Outsourced’ Episode 3: We talked, they listened!

Last week, I dissed NBC’s new sitcom ‘Outsourced’ for being inaccurate, unfunny and offensive, but said I’d give it one last chance with the third episode. And you know what? Everything turned out better than expected!

It was true to life. Virtually all the characters behaved in recognisable – and interesting – ways. The cross-cultural interactions make sense, as do the intra-cultural ones, even if the show’s basis in American culture and humour means that the dialogue rushes by a bit faster than is natural and some outlandish scenarios are thrown up. Still, those less believable moments are made funny and interesting by good writing and performances. The rest of it seems pretty much right on the mark. All the characters are really growing into themselves now that they each have some space in which to do so, and they are all great to watch.

It was funny. Jokes! Funny jokes! After the cringe-filled disaster of the first two episodes, I was delighted to find myself chuckling throughout. There are several memorable lines – “I just wanted to inform you that Gurpreet is making a personal call”; “There’s no unsubscribing”; “Again… you are not my equals” – and they are crafted into some excellent, laugh-out-loud scenes. The moment in which Todd and Charlie decide to step out onto the dancefloor was classic, and the whole dinner date was hilarious. This was my biggest problem with the first two episodes: the lack of decent humour made the show a chore to sit through. This time around, it was genuinely entertaining.

It was completely respectful and inoffensive (almost). At last, America was removed from the pedestal. Todd was shown to be sometimes a bit of an asshole and Charlie bumbled his way awkwardly through all of his interactions with Tanya, and on the Indian side, the show gave simple, knowing insights into (among other things) the idea of arranged marriage in India and didn’t try to tear any of them down. One problem: Tanya, the token white girl (who also happens to be Australian), is a total nymphomaniac. She’s not above shoving foot into crotch under the table or dropping ludicrously broad innuendos in the street. While this is a stereotype that is occasionally true, it really didn’t need perpetuating.

That makes for one bum note in an otherwise very enjoyable 20 minutes of television. I will definitely be tuning in for the next episode. Things are looking up!

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Subway In India: Just Like Home (Kind Of)

It starts as soon as I open the door: that bizarre, enigmatic sensation of being somewhere utterly contradictory. The Subway restaurant on the edge of Trivandrum’s Technopark campus is the only American chain restaurant for literally hundreds of miles around, and this makes it both the starkest example of Western influence on life in Kerala and the most jarring collision between that influence and the steadfast conservatism of this corner of India. The restaurant is right next to the building in which I work, so today I’ve decided to spend my lunch break there.

The music always hits me first. No Bollywood vocoders or Malayali whistles here: the dial is always tuned to an American radio station, generally near full volume. As I walk in, a track by one of my favourite groups, Arcade Fire, blasts out of the PA – a group I don’t think I’ve even heard in restaurants back in NZ, let alone in India. “I woke up with the power out! Not really something to shout about!” shrieks singer Win Butler as I walk to the vegetarian counter. Living as I do in rural Kerala, this line is peculiarly apt.

…read more at The NRI…

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