Outsourced might be losing its attraction for me. Last night’s episode, “Sari Charlie,” braided two stories together, but neither was very compelling, and for me, the January 27 episode was saved only by a few amusing antics by Rajiv and Gupta, my favorite characters-along with Manmeet, sometimes.
“Sari Charlie” starts with a slapstick moment. As usual, new products arrive for the telemarketers to sell to their American customers. Asha turns up her nose (so to speak) at the Angry Duck, a fart machine with eight settings. Todd uses the remote control on this trinket to add a soundtrack of a range of disgusting fart noises to Rajiv’s actions outside the window. Even Asha suppresses a giggle at the final, most disgusting one.
But Rajiv doesn’t like it. “What are you laughing at?” he barks to the employees.
Todd’s “In a Relationship”
In the next scene, Todd is with the Australian Tonya, who works in the same building. It seems the two had a great night-and morning-together. As they talk about weekend plans, Todd suggests “your place,” but Tonya wants “a proper date,” at a restaurant-not just sex.
They can’t, says Todd. Charlie, Tonya’s ex-boyfriend, might see them, and be hurt.
Now this seems odd to me, because I remember an early episode when Charlie said Tonya wouldn’t even give him the time of day. Suddenly she’s his ex?
Charlie walks by then, en route to work, and Todd lets go of Tonya, dropping her to the ground, in an effort to hide her from Charlie.
But Charlie seems fine. “Get her a coffee,” he says. “She likes it in the morning.”
“Yeah, she does,” says Todd. Nasty innuendo that doesn’t seem to be in character for Todd, the nice guy, the gentleman.
Then we go to Assistant Manager Rajiv. He gets a Skype call from Jerry, the boss in America. It’s time for Rajiv’s evaluations.
“Already done,” says Rajiv. “They’re all inadequate.”
No, these evaluations are of Rajiv’s job performance. And he is shocked. They never do that in India!
Then Jerry, who is phoning from his car, crashes into a mailbox.
Todd Counsels Charlie
Back to Todd, in the cafeteria counseling his friend Charlie on his loss of Tonya, telling him to let go, move on. But Charlie is obsessed. He sees Tonya at another table texting, then calling, and Todd’s phone is ringing and Todd is freaking out, but Charlie doesn’t put it together that Tonya is calling Todd. He’s confiding in Todd. He loves Tonya and wants to marry her. He looks at her plate of food: “She’s carbo-loading for a bone-a-thon.” Charlie has a way with words.
Meanwhile Rajiv is starting his campaign to be nice to the employees so he can get good evaluations from them.
“Good morning, business associates,” he greets them affably, then attempts a joke but realize in the middle that it’s a math problem.
He tells them that good evaluations for him will be good for everyone, and for India.
Tonya Cheats on Todd
Charlie is now stalking Tonya. He is in his office holding a big gun, wearing a black hood over his head. Poor taste, I say-even if it is just Charlie. Also, his office contains mounted stuffed wildlife and a huge American flag.
He has pictures of Tonya with another guy-and it’s not Todd. Whaaat?
Rajiv Tries Bribery
Rajiv brings delicious treats to the office, but the employees see through his attempts at bribery-all except Gupta, who charges toward the platters of food.
Madhuri (the shy girl) tells the others she’s going to give Rajiv a good evaluation. Yes, he’s terrible-but he’s the best boss she’s ever had.
Todd’s Bachelor Moment
Manmeet goes with Todd to stalk Tonya at a fancy restaurant, which he calls romantic. “Everyone here is trying to get someone in bed,” he observes.
Will blatant sexual references improve ratings? We’ll see.
In fact, Tonya is on a date, with a handsome guy named Sanjay. When Todd accuses her of cheating, she says she’s not planning on having sex with the guy, just a date, which is something Todd won’t do.
“You never take me out. All we do is have sex.”
So he asks her out, and she accepts, and he hands her a rose, pulled out of the air-in a nod to The Bachelor, which was also referenced on the previous show, 30 Rock .
Todd then adds, “Tomorrow it’ll be on Facebook, ‘In a Relationship’.” So sweet. So contemporary.
Rajiv Stoops Lower
Rajiv enlists the help of Madhuri in his quest for good evaluations.
” I took you off the streets,” he says, trying to persuade her.
” I wasn’t on the streets!” she counters. But when he begs, saying he won’t be able to marry if he doesn’t get good evaluations, she gives her head a few bobbles and agrees to help.
Rajiv campaigns avidly, telling Asha his nephew needs an operation.
” Mine too,” she says, surprised and now sympathetic.
He’s more aggressive with another female, Samida: “If you ever want to see your children again-you can! Take the afternoon off!”
Rajiv gives Gupta the new chair he needs. Gupta focuses on the big purple bow that comes with it: “I love bows!”
Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another Drink
Todd and Charlie make up in a bar where Charlie is drowning his sorrows. Todd props Charlie up by saying he’s a great guy, a brave guy. “And not many guys can pull off the short sleeves and a tie look.”
” Thanks, man,” says Charlie, buddy to buddy. “Make love all night. And leave the shades open.”
Uh, no. Todd, thank God, draws a boundary there.
Rajiv gets his evaluation results from Jerry, who looks like a character in a horror movie with his face all scarred up from the car accident.
” Not one negative comment,” he says to Rajiv, who is beaming until Jerry tells him that’s bad.
” You’re a manager, not their friend.” So his ploy has backfired. He has to do better, Jerry says–like Todd, who did get a negative comment.
” That was from me!” Rajiv protests. “This cannot be happening.”
Rajiv goes back to the office and takes away Gupta’s chair.
” Hurtful,” says Gupta.
Rajiv then grabs his beautiful purple bow.
” Double hurtful,” says Gupta. And on that note, the show ends.
Hopes for the Future
I hope the next episode contains more dialogue from Gupta and Rajiv. I’d like to see a little more Indian, a little less Ugly American. A little more culture, a lot less blatant sex.
As Rajiv learned, when you pander, it can backfire.
See also: “Many Characters on Outsourced Are Indian, But Not India-Born”
Watch the entire episode on nbc.com