The Reality of NBC’s Call Center Comedy

September 22, 2010

NBC’s new workplace comedy “Outsourced” premieres Thursday Sept. 23, but America is already offended.

On one hand, concerns have been raised that the show’s portrayal of life in an Indian call center will be totally racist, mining ignorant stereotypes about Indian culture for cheap laughs. On the other hand, the show’s executive producer told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s trying to put “a human face on the voice at the other end of the phone line.”

The full-length trailer posted to NBC’s site seems to provide fodder for both camps. Many of the jokes at the gag-gift purveyor Mid-American Novelties’ Indian office seem to center around topics such as: their names are hard to pronounce! Their food is spicy! They can’t do karaoke rap!

What we’re interested in is whether the call center situations presented are accurate and sincere. So we’ll be watching the show very closely and be checking in with real live customer support reps, after every episode, to get their take on whether “Outsourced” captures the customer service world accurately, or if it’s just one more “zany” comedy that’s run will be the shorter than a customer’s average wait time.  Stay tuned for our follow-up interview Zendesk’s Kelly Hoffer to get the facts on the show’s authenticity.