The Office is everybody’s favorite show. Let’s just face it. If you’re reading the recap, it’s because you like it. And I’m thinking you can’t come up with someone who hates it right off the top of your head. So let’s move on with the assumption that you and most of your friends were, like me, pretty disappointed to hear this would be Steve Carell’s last season playing Michael Scott. The Office just isn’t The Office without Carell, and what’s the likelihood, with Carell gone, Jim and Pam married, and the rest of the characters spiraling into their ridiculous side stories, that this series can continue?
But what’s that? NBC is releasing a new comedy? And it’s right after The Office? And it’s in an office? And it’s title starts with an O? That’s right, I was excited. Outsourced, a new comedy, stars Ben Rappaport as Todd Dempsey, an young American sent to India to manage a staff of customer service representatives. Of course, they’re selling American novelty items like whoopee cushions and deer heads that sing “Sweet Home Alabama,” so cultural hilarity is bound to ensue, right? Not so much.
Rappaport delivers a lackluster performance as the fresh young manager, especially when compared to Carell’s dynamic performances as manager of Dunder Mifflin, Scranton. The India portrayed in the show isn’t so much Slumdog Millionaire as it is the bright, cartoonish World Market/Eat Pray Love version. The “Indian” actors’ accents are corny and inauthentic. And the underlying plot is unconvincing — a young, promising college graduate moves to India on a whim to preserve his job as sales manager? As if he couldn’t do what millions of other Americans are doing — crash on mom and dad’s couch and wait for the storm to pass.
The only moment of true levity comes from a brief encounter Dempsey has in the lunch room with fellow American manager, Charlie Davies (Diedrich Bader). But that lasts just a moment before we’re back in the office with stale Dempsey and his staff of very Americanized Indians.
In comparison to Outsourced, the season 7 premiere of The Office was a shining beacon of hilarity — and it wasn’t even that great. It got its initial laughs with The Nard Dog (Ed Helms) — not “The Nard Man,” cause that’s his dad — leading the office in a music video performance. Then we sink into the mundane hilarity that made the show famous. There’s a new horrible assistant who can’t get the coffee orders right; Michael finds new funny ways to hate Toby; and of course, Jim and Pam play elaborate pranks on Dwight. What else could you ask for? I guess for a couple more seasons, but Carell axed that one.
So let’s just enjoy the last season of The Office as we know and love it (with Michael Scott) and hope that Outsourced outsources for better talent. Or just wait until Parks and Rec comes back on.