Today’s Guest: Actor Rizwan Manji, star, “Outsourced”
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience of staff writers for Martha Stewart Weddings, who steal all their best ideas from me… in the new new media capitol of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
A wedding seems the appropriate analogy to finish out the first season of the NBC sitcom “Outsourced.”
The show, about a white bread American exiled to run a Mombai, India call center, seemed more out of this world to TV critics and many viewers when it debuted in September 2010 than even Star Trek’s blue-skinned, antennaed Andorians.
“Outsourced” took a critical drubbing before most Americans even knew it was on the air.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Mid American Novelties’ annual shareholders meeting: NBC renewed “Outsourced” for a full season. Somebody, somewhere believed in the show.
And I think you can even make a case that putting it at the end of the network’s three-hour Thursday comedy block was a loving, protective move. Slotted at 10:30 p.m. took the pressure off, giving audiences a chance to discover it on their own terms at a time of night when expectations were low.
I would also argue that both moves took the pressure off the writing staff, who shaped a lump of coal into a shimmering diamond. Characters developed and blossomed. Storylines – such as assistant manager Rajiv’s efforts to woo his beloved and her stony, disapproving father — were given gentle showcases and, as they say, hilarity ensued.
We learned that Rajiv – played by Rizwan Manji – had a heart. And that despite all his efforts to be disdained by his employees, they loved him nonetheless.
So this marriage, unspooling in a two-part episode starting May 5 and concluding on May 12, represents not just the coming together of Rajiv & Vimi. It also marks the union of an Indian cast of sitcom characters and an American TV audience.
Just this morning I read in Variety that the show has won over the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications as well as South Asians in Media, Marketing and Entertainment, both of which are actively lobbying NBC to give “Outsourced” a second season. That’s important because the network might respond if it sees a chance to market to a welcoming, niche audience it hasn’t programmed to in the past.
Mr. Media video interview with actress Noureen DeWulf before Outsourced