We saw it coming a long way off, even before it pissed off gay activists, but Work It, ABC's new men-dressing-as-women-to-get-jobs sitcom, is by far the worst thing on television. Yeah, its' mildly offensive, but even worse than that, it is just plain awful.
I can barely even explain what an awful, hacky mess Work It was, but I'm going to try. There wasn't one funny or original joke in the whole half hour. Even worse, it plays up the worst stereotypes and generalizations of both sexes. Lee, the main character, likes to drink beer with the boys and ignores his wife's needs because he is a man. God, that is so tired. What is this, the King of Drag Queens? His wife only exists to nag and pester Lee. His teenage daughter is only concerned with texting (some stereotypes are true). The women he works with are a dumb blonde, a crazy single mother, and a British ice queen (Rebecca Mader get yourself a real job!) that is so competitive she hates other women. Are the writers this lazy, or are they intentionally trying to piss people off?
The premise of the show is that America is in a "mancession" (yes, that is a real word that they actually used with lack of irony) and women are taking over all of the jobs and the poor, poor privileged white man is shit out of luck. Let me tell you how hard it is to be a striaght, white, middle-class man in America today. It is fucking torture. It is so hard that the men now have to dress up like women to land a job. They even have to (gasp) tuck! Yes, Lee and his best friend Angel find out about job openings at a pharmaceutical sales company, but they only hire women because doctors want to sleep with women. Lee, with his impressive sales background is a shoe-in, if he dresses like a woman.
First of all the very premise of the show is completely unbelievable from the idea that Lee's wife—a slight woman in the mold of every other doltish man's sitcom wife—owns anything that Lee would ever fit into to the fact that everyone seems to think that Lee and Angel are actual women. There's even a scene where Lee goes into the taco joint where Angel is working and orders lunch from him in his bad wig and Tootsie voice and Angel doesn't even notice. Please! I know enough real drag queens that, while it might take a second to recognize them when dressed as the opposite sex, you're certainly going to recognize your best friend in drag.
The gay activists reason for getting mad at the show is that it makes light of men wearing dresses and casts them as ugly and comical and that is dangerous for transgender Americans. I don't know if that is necessarily true. That the two main characters "pass" as real women and no one seems to have a problem with them seems like it would be a triumph for the male-to-female transgender crowd. Apparently the country has come so far with acceptance that no one bats an eyelash when someone so different enters the workplace. Ask any transgender person that this is most likely not a reflection of the real world.
But aside from all that, Work It is just a sad, embarrassing mess. It has used up every joke that is conceivable from this set up—people thinking Lee is a real woman, the "girls" doing really macho things, their outfits falling apart in front of the crowd, their identities being blown at home, Lee learning a lesson on how to treat his wife by being a real woman. It's spent. It's all used up. ABC, do yourself and the world a favor and cancel this thing before it gets any worse. Just kidding. It couldn't possibly be worse.