Here at Paste, it goes without saying that we’re big fans of TV, and typically we like to give new series the benefit of the doubt—hell, we even gave Whitney a chance. But every now and then, a new show crops up that looks so misguided and woefully bad, we’re left with no choice but to pump the brakes, dust off our best dated David After Dentist impression and pose the question: “Is this real life?”
Enter Work It. When we first caught wind of the new ABC sitcom’s trailer (which you can have a look at below), we were sure it couldn’t possibly be for real. Sadly, we were mistaken, and roughly 6.1 million Americans tuned in to watch its debut—numbers that, ratings-wise, are considered mediocre at best but still are higher than the average episode of Community.
Thus, in the name of all that is good in pop culture, we have to kindly ask those of you planning on watching Work It tonight to cut it out. Here are 10 reasons why, in no particular order, after the trailer.
This almost goes without saying, but okay, ABC, we’ll bite: Is the reason why your main characters Lee and Angel are victims of this so-called “mancession,” where the only jobs available are for women, because the female sales reps at the pharmaceutical company where they’re hired are super intelligent and competent at their jobs? No? The company doesn’t employ men because “doctors don’t want to nail them”? Yowza. Someone call the Department of Labor on these ladies, because we’re pretty sure those hiring practices are sketchy at best. When they’re not basically whoring themselves out to male doctors, the women on Work It seem to spend their time gossiping, drinking cosmos, going to the club and judging each other for eating too much at lunch. Oh, and now that they’ve taken over the workforce, one male character is concerned that they’re going to turn all the men into sex slaves and force them to—gasp!—talk about feelings and cuddle. But hey, at least they have jobs!
Here’s the thing. There are plenty of real-life human beings who spend every day of their lives trying to pass as the opposite gender, and they don’t do it for comedy’s sake; they do it because they feel like they were born into the wrong bodies, and it’s the only way they can truly feel like themselves. And you can bet it doesn’t make finding a job easier. As GLAAD’s senior director of programs Herndon Graddick pointed out in the organization’s recent full-page ad in Variety denouncing the show, Work It “invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance” in spite of the fact that “more than one-quarter [of transgendered people in the workforce] are fired because of their transgender identity.”
We’re always willing to suspend disbelief to a certain extent for the sake of entertainment, but Work It poses so many questions, namely: 1. Where is this bizarro universe where, instead of making 75 cents to the dollar, women have somehow managed to completely dominate the workforce? 2. How did these ladies manage to seize control of society when they’re apparently too dumb to notice that they’ve accidentally hired what are very, very obviously two men in drag? 3. Are there really no jobs for men left? How about male models? Sperm donors? There’s literally nothing these guys can do for cash that would be easier and more plausible than posing as women?
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the 1980-1982 sitcom Bosom Buddies. This one at least had Tom Hanks and a delightfully cheesy opening sequence—complete with Billy Joel theme song—going for it.
We’re not fans of the laugh track to begin with—after all, if you have to be told when to laugh, chances are the show’s not that funny. Every now and then, however, a decent comedy with a laugh track like How I Met Your Mother comes along, and we’re willing to look past it. That’s definitely not the case with Work It. How do you make a misogynistic one-liner even less funny? Add some canned laughter to make us feel like we’re the only ones not amused.
Really? A RuPaul song in the promo? Why not go for something a little more subtle, like “Dude Looks Like A Lady”? The jokes are just as stale and painfully obvious: bros can’t walk in heels, one guy asks a woman for a tampon while on a job interview to avoid being found out as a man in drag (because that’s a totally normal thing we girls do!), and they make feeble attempts at pop cultural references like “most of the girls who work here think clinical trials are the things Lindsay Lohan keeps having to go to.”
Thing a character actually said on last week’s premiere: “I’m Puerto Rican…I’d be great at selling drugs.” Naturally, this has a lot of people up in arms. A crowd recently picketed outside ABC’s studio chanting “I’m Puerto Rican and not a drug dealer,” and two Puerto Rican members of Congress (Jose Serrano and Nydia Velasquez) issued statements demanding apologies from the network. So far, ABC hasn’t commented on the issue.
If women, the LBGT community and Puerto Ricans weren’t enough demographics to marginalize on one show, never fear: the men on Work It aren’t safe from being stereotyped either. Here, they’re part of the same, tired male sitcom archetype—they’re a bunch of schlubs who drink cheap beer, watch sports, objectify women and display a general ineptitude when it comes to all things romantic. When his wife pouts and decides she doesn’t want to come with him to the bar, Lee says, “Okay, I’ll wake you up for sex later,” and strolls out the door before popping back in after a beat and asking, “Wait. Are you mad?” HAHA! Typical guy, right? Sigh…
Much of the (cough) humor on the show is meant to be derived from the fact that Lee and Angel are, well, bigger than the other rail-thin ladies at their office. When one of the gals notices a tan line on Lee’s ring finger, she asks him if he’s divorced (you know, a totally appropriate question for a coworker you just met), and before he can cut in, another woman asks, “Did he leave you for someone smaller?” Later, at lunch, Lee unwraps a footlong sandwich (wuh-oh! not-so-subtle phallus alert!), and he’s met with judgmental stares from the other women, so he picks off one piece of lettuce, throws the rest of the sandwich away and nibbles daintily on the lettuce. You know, like a woman would.
There are plenty of other quality programs on TV you could be spending your time with instead. Can we interest you in one of these Or hey, how about a book
Work It airs on ABC tonight at 8:30 p.m. Bonnie Stiernberg would urge you to watch something else, but then again, what does she know? She’s just a woman with a small brain.