Plenty of comedies are based on the idea that there's inherent humor in men dressing up as women, from Some Like It Hot to Bosom Buddies. If you need proof that the entire concept is dated, look no further than the trailer for Work It, a new sitcom premiering on ABC in January. The 90-second clip is so unbearably unfunny that it almost seems like a parody of how idiotic sitcoms have become, and now several groups are slamming the series for being insensitive to the transgender community.
The L.A. Times reports that GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign took out a full-page ad in Variety asking ABC to pull the show before it even airs. The show follows two unemployed straight men who dress as women to get jobs at a pharmaceutical company that's hiring female sales representatives. There's no mention of transgender people in the pilot, but the groups argue that, "By encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters' attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women."
The groups say they don't want to send the message that cross-dressing in comedy is never acceptable, but there's no redeeeming social commentary in Work It. In fact, while the characters lament the "mancession," the show actually ignores the fact that transgender people are subjected to a tremendous amount of discrimination in the workplace. Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's senior director of programs, explains, "The truth is, transgender people often have a very hard time finding a job and of those who do, more than one-quarter are fired because of their transgender identity." Plus, 34 states have no laws protecting people from being fired for their gender identity.
Some argue that Work It is no worse than Monty Python characters dressing in drag or Kenan Thompson playing Whoopi Goldberg on SNL, but just to make sure the show offends absolutely everyone, the writers threw in a little racism and sexism. In the pilot one character says, "I'm Puerto Rican. I would be great at selling drugs." As for the ladies, in addition to one of the main characters throwing out his large sandwich because real women never eat anything but lettuce, a pharmaceutical rep explains that the company is only hiring women because, "We find the doctors prefer to 'nail' the drug reps more when they are girls." It's pretty unbelievable that with all the people involved in getting this show on the air, no one pointed out that it's not 1986, and people should be laughing during a sitcom, not cringing.