First impressions can be important. Good or bad, it can be hard to change people’s opinions afterwards.
Television critics meanwhile can be hypocritical and have double standards.
Put those two things together and you can get television series that get unfairly brushed aside.
I began doing Hindsight Reviews, particularly for my Korean drama reviews because I had previously waited until I had watched all 16+ episodes of a series before opining on what I watched. So I decided to write a review for the first maybe two or three episodes and then revisit the series after it ends. With Korean dramas and especially Philippine dramas (oy!) a series with a great start could easily fall into a pit of garbage midway through. A lackluster finale could erase all the goodwill you felt of the previous 8 weeks. Or the other way around where a series pulls a miracle out of itself and everything falls into the place at the end.
Some series could dig itself a hole so fast that a Hindsight Review can’t wait until it ends.
Television critics usually judge a show based on the first few episodes and if they don’t like what they see, they throw it aside never to watch another episode again.
But there are the rare moments when critics revisit a show later on in its run (if the panning hasn’t killed it yet) and have a change of heart. They find a series has turned itself around. That all of a sudden, a middling to downright cringe-worthy beginning has now turned into one of the best series on television today.
There’s plenty of examples of the that, most especially on NBC Thursdays. The Office, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation all were universally criticized, indifferent towards, and panned (respectively) when they first premiered. Fast forward to just a season later since each of their premieres, and critics are lauding them and heaping mounds of praise.
Now enter Outsourced, the NBC comedy barely clinging to life on Thursdays at 10:30pm.
Even before anyone saw a single episode, Outsourced was already at a disadvantage and its generic pilot episode did not help matters.
From American jitters about outsourced jobs to others thinking anything with minorities on television must be racist in some way, Outsourced had a big mountain to climb.
But after its rough start, the series picked itself up and briskly grew into a charming and funny workplace comedy. The writing improved greatly and now offers its talented (and did I mention charming?) ensemble cast plenty of opportunities to shine.
Not to mention, it is arguably (easily) the least mean-spirited and cynical show in the bunch.
Outsourced may not feature a joke a second, but it is a show that leaves you with a smile on your face the whole way through. They don’t force you to laugh every other second. When they drop a punchline, it is usually always in the right place. Not plugging in a line here and there just to fill time.
Unfortunately, critics and audiences alike continue to throw criticism its way without even seeing an episode (maybe ever). Because the series is a much different, but better show now that it was in its pilot or even 2nd episode.
But critics especially refuse to give it a second chance, even though they so courteously gave a second look to other NBC Thursday comedies and now praise them like they’re the best thing to happen before Modern Family.
Why the courtesy for them and not for Outsourced? It is very disheartening to see critics throw it under the bus when all they’ve seen is its first and second episodes. Comments that they throw out now, but may have only been applicable for those early eps. Using the series as an easy target now, but ending up being shallow barbs.
Even if the series isn’t going on your top 10 list at the end of the year, continually calling it racist or offensive or unfunny is just completely without merit and unfair.
On the contrary, the series has provided a charming and sincere look at both American and Indian cultures as well as the realities of outsourced jobs. The series puts a face on those people on the other end of the phone and shows that they are just like you, more than you ever knew.
Outsourced is the perfect example of giving a show another chance and in what should be a critic’s responsibility to revisit series after a while.
Critics can be quick to turn their backs on a show they were absolutely salivating over when its premieres, but they aren’t so quick to revisit and reconsider a show that may have been lacking at first, but has grown and built itself up over time.