“Work It!” Is Hardly Working

this is an actual screenshot of me and my BFF from our actual performance at the 8th grade talent show

I had high hopes for the eighth grade talent show. Our team would be lip-syncing and dancing to Madonna’s “Material Girl” and for reasons that escape me now, I was the production’s choreographer and apparent costume designer — shocking, I know, as I can barely dance and dress myself, let alone guide others. Probably I had a second-in-command, and I was likely in charge because I put myself in charge of everything all the time.

After a piss-poor Nirvana air guitar situation and Mary-Beth Goldstein sitting onstage lip-syncing with despondence for the eight-minute entirety of Pearl Jam’s Better Man, I thought we had this shit in the bag. We were warned that the other team – our friends, who I’ll call The B-Team – were planning to feature all the most popular 8th grade boys in full drag. We knew this ’cause they’d borrowed our dresses (not mine) and makeup (also not mine), which would surely delight the audience. I brushed it off. So what? Guys dressed as girls? I mean, that’s not a joke in and of itself, is it? We’d borrowed the A-Team boys’ flannels and baseball caps for our number, but that was just an outfit, it wasn’t a joke. I dressed like that every day, actually (which may have been why I was the only one in my group of friends unable to secure a boyfriend), but it wasn’t necessarily funny.

We did well. The response was enthusiastic. We even allowed our t-shirt-and-jeans-attired boys to put ballons under their t-shirts, as they were apparently envious of the other team’s full-drag situation. But reader — when “Supermodel (You Better Work)” started pumping out of the tape recorder and The B-Team took the stage in full drag as promised, the response was deafening. There was whistling, hooting/hollering and manic applause. See, the boys were adorned head-to-toe in “girl” — dresses, high heels, balloon-breasts and clownish makeup including lipstick that looked like it had been applied during a high-speed chase. Nobody bothered with a wig, though. They weren’t dressed as women, not really. They were dressed as drunk teenagers running late for church.

Somehow, the memory of standing in the back of the room during their performance, being the only one in the entire school not laughing, has stuck with me like it was yesterday. I’d been raised “gender neutral” and I wasn’t remotely troubled by the idea of a male or female-bodied person wanting to present as the opposite gender they were assigned at birth. But boys putting on bras, dresses and lipstick for laughs, like Zach and Screech always did on Saved by the Bell? That made me want to leave the room.

So when I saw the first preview for Work It a few months ago, my knee-jerk reaction didn’t have anything to do with my radical socialist lesbian feminist rage, but that still-unidentified piece of me that just doesn’t get the joke. [I’ve also read pieces of the scripts for the first four episodes, with similar results.] It’s not out of political correctness — although I tame myself for Autostraddle, my sense of humor in real life is WAY not-PC — so I know that has nothing to do with my confusion.

Why is this funny?

To answer that question, let’s first start out with a briefing on the worldwide webrage regarding Work It, which is set to premiere on January 3rd. From the HRC:

According to ABC, the show centers on two unemployed men who have “learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a ‘man-cession’ and their skills aren’t in high demand.” One finds out that a pharmaceuticals company is hiring sales reps, but only female sales reps. He goes to the interview dressed in heels, a skirt, and make-up and gets hired as a woman.

GLAAD is asking ABC to reconsider airing the program at all and The HRC, which doesn’t often get involved in media-related situations, has started a petition against Work It. From Glaad’s letter:

GLAAD has seen the pilot and while the show’s pilot does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection.  Work It invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance, thereby also making it easier to mock people whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned at birth.  Said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson, “Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it.  It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.”

I’d go one step further however — I don’t think this show is simply transphobic, I think it’s trans misogynist and generally all-around sexist and misogynist. Is the show mocking “people” whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned, or is it mocking “people” whose gender identity and expression are feminine?

Because by the way, the cisgender straight female characters of this program are idiots who spend 95% of their screentime talking about men and fighting over men. And every.single.joke inWork It relies on the idea that a men “dressing like women” is inherently hilarious. Although masculine women deal with a whole other set of oppressive discrimination (and I’m not comparing the two, this is  not Oppression Olympics I’m just saying they’re different), a straight cisgender woman wearing a suit isn’t inherently funny. It’s trendy, even.

So why is a man in woman’s clothing a joke?

It must be a joke because women are a joke!

“Today, while it is generally considered to be offensive or prejudiced to openly discriminate against someone for being female, discriminating against someone’s femininity is still fair game,” Julia Serano writes in her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Serano suggests this discrimination also affects how we see “effeminate” gay men, how lesbians sometimes ostracize lesbian femmes, and why the media is so attached to the portrayal of femininity as “artificial, contrived and frivolous; a ruse that only serves the purpose of attracting and appeasing the desires of men.” In line with this, popular narratives about trans women obsessively focus on the “costume” of femininity, such as makeup and shoes, when in reality a lot of women — both trans and cis — don’t even wear makeup or own a dress. Similarly, masculine women are perceived as pariahs for refusing to fit into the patriarchal ideal of women as artificial, contrived and frivolous.

So maybe part of why I don’t find this joke funny is that I don’t find women inherently silly and  also, the situation of feeling uncomfortable about having to fit into a specific box and appear like a certain “type” of woman is hardly an experience exclusive to cisgender males made to don mini-skirts in a sitcom.

Lee and Angel in drag and not-in-drag

Anyhow, that’s not the only sexist strand running through this field of fail! The idea that women have an easier time getting jobs than men or that women actually have surpassed men in workplace inequality is grossly misleading to begin with. It’s evidence of the EVIL BACKLASH Susan Faludi discusses in her book, Backlash: “The backlash is at once sophisticated and banal, deceptively ‘progressive’ and proudly backward.” As we discussed earlier this week, the gender wage gap remains but there are plenty of people dedicated to making us think otherwise (though rarely consciously), including, apparently, the creators of this show.

However, let’s suspend our disbelief, beliefs, and everything else we know to be true in this world, and go with it. Basically, two men are told they’re not welcome in a space because it’s a women’s space, and rather than respect that, they find a way around it! Surely these women are delusional! How silly of us, to think there’s anything men can’t do, and how nice of them to take it upon themselves to circumvent our sexist system and bless us with their abilities. A touching narrative reminiscent of Soul Man, the 1986 film about a white guy who dons blackface in order to obtain a full scholarship to Harvard! (It’s also worth mentioning that the “men finding a way into a women’s space” scenario is particularly insulting/problematic/loaded because historically, trans women have often felt or been excluded from women’s spaces where they unquestionably ought to be included.)

ABC has a truly fantastic record of LGBT representation, which makes this show especially disappointing. The head of ABC has apparently defended the show by saying, “I’m a Brit, it is in my contract that I have to do one cross-dressing show a year; I was brought up on Monty Python. What can I do?” GLAAD points out that “there has been forty years of progressive social change since Monty Python’s television heyday.” I’d add that Monty Python was also smart and funny. Work It! is not. It’s stupid! All the jokes are stupid and boring and lazy.

The B-Team won the Talent Show, by the way. And this show will air, and I’ll be unable to watch it because I don’t like that joke and it makes me feel weird, but also because it’s sexist and transphobic and not funny. But will the rest of the room be laughing? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

UPDATE 12.21.2011: GLAAD and the HRC have placed a full-page ad in Variety asking ABC to reconsider the program, which they say will harm transgender people. They are attempting to secure a meeting with ABC to discuss the show. In their written statement, GLAAD points out that in addition to harming trans people, Work It also manages to also be offensive to women, people of color and the unemployed. Find out more about their campaign at glaad.org/workit.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3201 articles for us.


  1. this is awful in so many ways and I want to a) curl up in a small cupboard and cry or b) write an enraged email to ABC, but I have a final in an hour

  2. i had similar feelings on seeing the trailer; this then made me think about previous times when a man in woman’s clothing has been used as a joke. the movie “mrs. doubtfire” didn’t (and still doesn’t, really) make me have the feeling that something is wrong. i feel like it’s portrayed slightly differently. was this because i was 7 at the time it came out, or am i alone in this perception?

    • I’m not sure that Mrs. Doubtfire made fun of femininity. You weren’t supposed to laugh just because Robin Williams was wearing a dress, you were supposed to laugh because his face fell out the window and got run over by a truck. Also, I think there’s something in there about a disconnection with femininity and age, as in the character is older so society has trouble viewing her as feminine? I think? Whereas something like Big Momma’s House – definitely offensive.

      I would have to watch Mrs. Doubtfire again with my feminist goggles on to be sure.

    • ha, we actually talked about that last night because i also liked Mrs.Doubtfire when I was a kid and imagine that I’d still like it now. There are lots of things at work here — the first is that Mrs.Doubtfire isn’t sexualized at all. Also; the movie didn’t rely on cross-dressing or sexism as the punchline, he wasn’t poking fun at women. Also, usually part of the humor in these shows is that the perpetuation of the false idea that cross-dressing men can’t ever “pass” and that was never the punchline in Mrs.Doubtfire.

      • Word. It was never about sexism with Mrs. Doubtfire. The character he built wasn’t sexualized, it was never about making her look sexy, it was about making her look real, warm and loving. In turn that’s what bought him all that respect when he was her. She was never objectified.

        Also his brother and his brother’s partner (Robin Williams character even refers to them to his kids as Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack) were costume designers who helped him create Mr. Doubtfire in that epic montage. There was all sorts of love for the gays in that movie.

      • I’d also add that Williams’ premise for being Mrs. Doubtfire (impersonating a babysitter to spend time with his children), is more relatable than “women have more than enough jobs and we want one”.

    • I loved Mrs. Doubtfire as a kid. That movie had to do with love and family and this is just a fucking joke. God.

  3. Ugh @ the picture of in drag/not in drag. What the fuck is up with the different foods? Salad and water vs burgers and coke? what.the.fuck. is wrong with people?!

    • Oh my sweet G-d. Thank you. I was reading and being infuriated and then I saw that picture and just couldn’t process emotions anymore.

    • Yeah, this actually came up in one of my anthropology of foods classes and I wanted to point this out, too. Food’s gendered so it’s not just here.

  4. Un-checked cis-privelege on various LBG(T) sites:

    “GUYS IT IS NOT TRANS-PHOBIC….THERE ARE NO TRANS PEOPLE, so stop being oversensitive!!!111!!!”


  5. Like you, I can’t quite put a finger on my rage…but that trailer really sets me off for some reason. In theory, the idea of men discovering the complexities of what women deal with in the modern work force (from the pressure on image to sexual harassment, etc.) is a positive one, but I hate when it’s set to a laugh track. I get so irritated when men turn real issues into jokes when they really aren’t. Oh, ha ha, better throw that sandwich away because women are always dieting because of the ridiculous amount of importance placed on image! I know a girl who just got fired and one of the reasons given (of several, mind you) was because she showed up to work two days in a row without wearing make-up. This shit is real.

  6. this looks like a shitty, poorly-filmed 80s sitcom. also, I’m disappointed that RuPaul’s song is being used to advertise this. Did RuPaul give permission, or was that a choice by the licensing label?

    • RuPaul isn’t trans identified. He has repeatedly said he’s a gay man who does drag for a living but doesn’t identify himself as transgender. Moreover, he’s not been an especially good ally of the trans community in past on a variety of issues (not to mention ‘speaking’ for us out of one side of his mouth and refusing to identify as trans with the other.

      • good to know re: his track record, thanks. I knew he didn’t identify as trans*, but I still kinda expected more out of a queer icon. I mean, people outside the LGBTQ community know who he is, I think he should feel a sense of responsibility to represent us–all of us–a little better to the wider world. also, just ugh, why would any artist/performer want their music attached to such a stupid show?!

  7. YESSS I’m so glad other people feel the same way as me. Even when I was too young to know what a feminist was, I found it strange and a bit infuriating that women dressed like men weren’t funny while men dressed like women were just HILARIOUS. It sends the message that femininity is something to be mocked while it is a no-brainer that some women would naturally want to dress like men (implied: men are better) so how could that possibly funny. A man dressing in feminine attire has the same effect as a man dressing in a chicken suit: it’s a step “downward” into something more degrading, so it’s funny.

    But of course when I try to tell this to people, I get the response “You’re reading too much into things, stop being so sensitive.” Naaaarghhh.

    • Oh my God I know. If one more person tells me “you’re reading too much into things, stop being so sensitive,” I’m going to explode. And not in the good way.

  8. “Bosom Buddies” re-boot for the 21st century, only it’s not 1981 anymore.

    This reminds me of a couple of the lines of the Madonna song-What It Feels Like for a Girl- “for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, ’cause you think being a girl is degrading.”

    • I just looked up those Madonna lyrics to post them.

      “Girls can wear jeans
      And cut their hair short
      Wear shirts and boots
      ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy
      But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
      ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading”

      I think that sums up this situation perfectly.

      • That introduction to the song is an excerpt from the film “The Cement Garden”, based on the novel by Ian McEwan. Which is problematic but still provocative, I think. Still, it’s a great quote.

  9. This show’s entire concept is pathetic. I was especially irked when the character was about to eat a sandwich and threw the entire thing away to eat a piece of broccoli (giving into media expectations of how women should eat, wasting food, heteronormativity).
    Hopefully this doesn’t last long if it isn’t pulled before it’s air date.

  10. Yes, I think trans misogyny involves ridiculing all women (or whatever is determined to be femininity) but it goes beyond that. There are plenty of ciswomen who also express transmisogyny and plenty of queer women and lesbians who do too. I’ve known many self-proclaimed ‘allies’ who made snide remarks about the way trans women look, express themselves or talk when it was safe to do so and they thought they wouldn’t be called on it.

    No, the show isn’t about trans women, but it feeds into every trope about ‘men in dresses’ and ‘men in the women’s room’ that exist and the people who ultimately bear the brunt of that are trans women. Yes, women are ridiculed by being called trannies and yes, that’s ridiculing femininity in general, but it’s fundamentally calling trans women ugly, fake and freakish and saying to any woman called that “you look like the ugliest thing there is… a man in a dress.”

    Is all feminine drag offensive, misogynist or transmisogynist? No. But there is a lot of it which is totally about ridiculing women (the recent “Shit Women Say” video straddles the line). But as soon as it involves bathrooms, inability to express as a woman or oblivious trashiness/ugliness, then it goes over into transmisogyny and away from just “queer expression.” But, in my experience, mention that to a queer crowd and they’ll act like you’ve just killed their dog.

    • The LGB part of our community has a lot of learning to do to become better advocates and supporters of the T part of our community – and I’m especially including myself in that. Much of this should be common sense, I know, but sometimes I have to actively place myself mentally in other people’s shoes before it becomes clear to me.

  11. I’m not easily offended, but I really hope this show gets cancelled; they’re going for cheap laughs and it’s a disservice to everyone.

  12. “…masculine women are perceived as pariahs for refusing to fit into the patriarchal ideal of women as artificial, contrived and frivolous.”

    Everything this article pointed out = YES, but I wanted to call out this sentence in particular for being awesome at highlighting yet another infuriating/hilarious Catch-22 of gender discrimination.

    There’s no winning.

    Basically, all of this boils down to an inherent denigration of women, which also does no good for men or inter-sexed people or, y’know, anyone really.

    We still have a long, long way to go.

  13. I think it’s easy to agree that what we’re seeing here is blatantly wrong and shouldn’t air. I even have to wonder what the execs at ABC were thinking… the subject of men dressing up as women is as old as dirt (Some Like It Hot, anyone?) and it’s not like they even put a new spin on things (minus the idea that it’s only a recession for men. Gag.)

    I mean, isn’t ANYONE trying to do ANYTHING out there that is funny and inclusive and witty and sensitive? Or will I just need to watch Unicorn Plan-It over and over until they make new ones?

    The only network comedy show that I watch during prime-time is Modern Family because I feel that the writers are usually pretty good at feeling out the balance between “so funny” and “too far,” and even if they miss the mark on occasion, I get the sense that they’re at least TRYING. Ironically, they’re writing for ABC.

    • Some commenter at the A.V. Club actually tried to say that we should consider Some Like It Hot offensive if we think this show is offensive and I wanted to rage because they’re not even in the same fricking category…

  14. Not only is the idea that women are taking jobs away from men grossly misleading, but this show is perpetuating the idea that a world in which men don’t have more power and access than women is an unjust world; like when men have to cede power things become “unfair.”

    And god I am SO BORED of “men are one way women are another way!” tv humor. It’s just so fucking lazy.

    • Not to mention the completely baffling premise that trans women have more economic privilege than cis men…. what??

  15. I completely agree. I’d quote from the same book that Riese quoted and say that “trans misogyny is misogyny.” The devaluation of femininity and femmephobia (and as such the perceived in-authenticity of both femininity and of female masculinity) are some of the larger issues that end up getting raised in why we still have a long way to go as a society. I often kind of see it as one of the driving factors in homophobia, transphobia, violence against women, and even the income gap (as well as a host of other problems).

    You’re right, this show is oozing in misogyny. But let’s not forget the blatant heterosexism and the strict gender policing. There’s something implicit throughout this entire show that I didn’t catch at first. They kind of imply that while it’s funny to see a man in a dress, and it’s “empowering” for men to take their rightful place in the workforce, it’s also WRONG for them to dress the way they are. It’s something they should be ashamed of and hide and others should be frightened of. It’s just another layer of trans misogyny. As others have said, “But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading”

    • good point — i am REALLY confused about why it is that these men are lying to their wives about their jobs, besides that it makes for a lot of crazzzzy hijinks! every ensuing script i’ve read from the show plays to that endlessly — situations in which the boys’ “real life” and “work life” accidentally collide and they have to make weird excuses and/or hide. which again is just SO TIRED AND LAZY.

      just wait ’til the upcoming episode where lee slithers out of “getting caught” by claiming he’s dressed up as joy behar for a costume party.

  16. Everything about this show makes me want to barf. Especially the thought of people actually watching it and laughing at the jokes. But that picture of a tiny Riese in flannel should hold back the onset of depression for awhile at least

  17. I thought pretty much the exact same thing when I first saw the commercial for this show. It’s ridiculously degrading and about five steps back when it comes to sexism and transphobia.

  18. A friend of mine works at ABC so he gave me the premieres of all the shows lined up to maybe air this season over the summer. I watched this pilot with my girlfriend and her dad and none of us thought it was funny. Her dad is 70. We are in our early 20s. Her dad is straight, and male. We are gay, and female. What I’m getting at, of course, is WHO POSSIBLY THINKS THIS SHIT IS FUNNY? I mean I know there are 9 bajillion more types of people out there than just gay girl and straight man but I really just cannot even fathom the type of human who would giggle over this. Like everyone has stated, not only is is misogynist, transphobic, transmisogynist, and sexist…IT IS LAZY AND NOT FUNNY. NOT. FUNNY.

    For serious, the three of us just barely made it through the episode, and before I even had a chance to get all rage-y her dad just rolled his eyes and said, “Well at least we know this will never air.” I’m incredibly upset that he was wrong. I’m waiting for it to get cancelled.

  19. I really hope this shows fails quickly, one of those cancelled after one episode. I was aghast when I saw the first commercial, it’s baffling that multiple people thought this show should be made and aired on tv.

  20. Pretty sure this is going to get canceled. It’s obvious there are no new ideas since this is a direct re-do of “Bosom Buddies” as someone else mentioned before. It makes me sad for all those writers out there with great ideas and losing out to shows like this.

  21. Its so strange to me that being a feminine presenting woman is hilarious, but if you are not femmed up to the max, I.E masculine in any way, you get called names, people think your sense of fashion is off, you can’t get jobs (personally experienced this stuff)So what the hell is a woman to do??? Are we just funny and frivolous or confused and sad creatures “trying to be boys”? Well I don’t like those choices.

  22. Thanks, Riese. Once again, you have eloquently explained something that left me sputtering and angry. Now i feel like i have the words to go back to my roommate and say, this is why the fact that this show exists is shitty. (or maybe i’ll just send her this article)

  23. I saw the trailer for this and didn’t laugh once. It all felt a little icky to me. This article perfectly explains why.

  24. This one industry news website had a whole entry on how oversensitive GLAAD is and that this show is not transphobic because it is not about actual transsexuals. That is the journalist’s “logic.” (I stopped reading after that sentence and am still too shaking furious for further analysis – I am so frustrated that smart shows rarely last while retread warmed-over bullshit like this gets made, and in conclusion, “Arrested Development,” “Party Down,” “Freaks & Geeks,” “My So-Called Life,” and life is precious and god and the bible.)

  25. Because I am trans and a lesbian I am more offended by the misogynously based assumptions than the so called transphobia, of which I don’t really see.
    The assumptions that women only eat rabbit food is bad enough but what female would not have these two imitators clocked in half a second?
    From the trans viewpoint I see these characters more as opportunist who expired their male priviledge and discovered a new venue for employment. Oh, and don’t even get me started on how women are taking over the workforce. I am employed in aerospace, and yes the more progressive corporations are promoting women in engineering and manufacturing supervising positions, but even so, it’s still heavily weighed male in director and VP positions.
    My first blog comment here and I rambled, please don’t kick me out?

    • Marsha, I’m so glad you finally posted and it’s cool you have a good job in your industry. But I want to say why, for me, shows like this do impact the trans community… even you. No matter how well you pass, what job you have or how deep you live within women’s communities, once you’re ID’d as trans there is a large portion of the non-trans world (including the queer non-trans world) which will view you as “a man in a dress” (whether you wear dresses or not or ID as a man or queer or not). The more shows like this ridicule anyone externally male identified as a joke because they’re presenting as a woman impacts ALL trans women. Transmisogyny is misogyny but it’s also more. It’s sexualizing and fetishizing our very identities, and presentations as who we are as a form of perviness, it’s placing us in women’s restrooms for salacious reasons, it’s making intimate women’s conversations we have with other women into an act of thievery and deception and, especially, it makes us into liars trying to trick the non-trans world. Every one of these story lines is extrapolated into this show and whether you want it or not, many people apply those tropes to you and all other trans women. It’s also notable that, well before the protests began, this show was described by a lot of media as having “a transgender theme.” Marsha, in situations like this, you don’t get to pick and chose which ridiculing humor, false assumptions and inaccuracies are applied to you and which aren’t. They’re here, surrounding you, waiting to be exploited for corporate greed or power and will be used against you when they think it benefits them.

  26. Oh god. It physically hurts that this show even exists. But yeah, Monty Python wasn’t funny because there were men pretending to be women, it was funny because they were brilliant actors playing hilarious characters. Sigh.

  27. I know this is quite a late comment, but I just wanted to make my views known. As well as contributing to the idea that being transgendered is some sort of joke, this show also appears to be trying to return us to the olden days when women weren’t allowed to work they could only stay home and take care of the kids, and cook for their “hard-working husband”. I know these views have already been expressed in previous comments, but the point I want to make is that the “joke” doesn’t stop there. This show also makes fun of men. I’m a man, but do you really think I’m stupid enough to believe that the reason I don’t have a job is because women are taking over the workforce? No in fact the most likely reason I don’t have a job is because I’m not qualified enough for the jobs I apply for. And even if women are taking over the work force does anybody think that that would cause men to start dressing up as women? Because I don’t. Sometimes the things men do just really piss me off, and make me ashamed to identify as the male gender. Work it is one of those things.

  28. I really feel like someone needs to create a version of this without the laugh track. Like Garfield without speech bubbles or Big Bang Theory without the laugh track, where it’s all awkward silences and kind of sad.

    I think it would be a really good teaching tool for the people who don’t get it or think we’re overreacting maybe?

    • yes! because when you stop laughing at your own jokes, it gets quiet enough that you can hear whether anybody else is laughing.

      and usually they’re not.

  29. i guess i’m a bad queer because i don’t really have a problem with the basic premise of this show. no i don’t think the show will be funny its a stupid idea but at the same time i don’t think its transphobic. saying this is transphobic is like saying martin lawrence dressing up as big moma is transphobic

  30. I have the very meanest understanding of transgender issues, so I hope you’ll treat my comments with patience; I make them because I wish to learn. If I have made assumptions, please point to them, if I have misunderstood the issue; please correct me. Hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas.

    I haven’t seen this show, so I have no bearing at all on whether its deeply sexist or transphobic. The article here itself interests me though (my interest is performance and gender issues generally), I’d certainly agree that a climate where women get jobs far easier than men (which seems myth, and contrary to any kind of reality) as a basis for a show is a deeply flawed and problematic one.

    However, I’m not sure I agree with the writer’s conclusions on cisgender drag. The piece argues that the ‘joke’ in cisgender drag is that femininity is innately humorous, frivolous or worthy of nothing more than ridicule. I find this position a rather shallow one.

    Surely, the core of drag comedy comes from a simple place; an individual trying to act in a manner that is alien to him/her and letting their own warped archaic gender bias get them into hot water. When done well (Some Like It Hot etc) this kind of act heightens awareness of our own prejudice’s and assumptions on gender and makes light of them. I’m not sure it follows that to laugh at a drag act is to make it easier to ‘mock a transgender person’ – the nature of drag comedy dictates that humour arises from someone acting in a way that doesn’t come naturally to them; the same comedic function you might see in a lawyer trying to act like a lumberjack. But with transgender people there is nothing forced, unnatural, nothing strained, no ‘act’ – my understanding is it’s quite the opposite.

    I have more problems with the traditional British ‘pantomime-dame’ – a drag act whose existence is simply to reinforce the suggestion (again, and again, and again) that to dress in drag is a kind of humorous sexual deviancy; a platform for a never ending string of double entendres.

    You’ve also written here about the problem of the kind of femininity the men choose to portray, entirely validly noting that femininity is a spectrum, that many women don’t own a dress and that the show implies that to be a woman should be all the things these men attempt to be.

    Yet to me (and again, I haven’t actually seen anything of the show), don’t drag acts inherently rely on tapping into the most nuclear gender stereotypes in order to mock the stereotypes themselves? By exposing them, do we not weaken them? Looking forward to your answers; I’m a novice in these matters of debate and only wish to learn more by discussing them. I don’t want to upset any apple carts.

  31. Gina I have am so thrilled to have viewed your profile and blogsite and thank you for responding to my comment.

    Because you are highly involved with the lives of other transpeople and a movie critic I see where image/marketing would have a high priority in your evaluation of the impact this show would have upon the your general perception of the trans community. We have both seen with friends and at TDOR events what horrible ramifications occur due to the phobia of transpeople. From my viewpoint I saw far more misogyny in the ABC promo clips than transphobia. These actors appeared to be men in dresses for all I could see, not disimular to Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in “Some Like it Hot” (wow am I showing my age!)

    I’m not sure how we turn perceptions of transwomen in particular into more positive imagery when our own transcommunity can not decide who is transgender. I mean the Tri-Ess monthly crossdressers are considered part of our “rainbow” but most often I wouldn’t consider them even trans, but men who like looking like women occassionally.

    Gina, I suppose the question is when does humour step over a line from entertaining to ridiculing? Oh, I didn’t find anything funny in the previews, but I suppose some would be amused. But to me what was more repulsive was the way women were viewed and I have been an advocate for improving the imagery of women for most of my life. Or as has been attributed to Betty White, “Why do people say ‘grow some balls’? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding”

    Let’s both say it together, “The show sucks”

  32. I wonder if the First, First Man of the White house gets to redecorate according to his taste? Take down James Madison and replace him with a poster of Barry Bonds?

  33. HRC can go fire a few people, make some public apologies they should have given in 2007 (and stop taking endorsements from companies like NIKE) before I’d give them free, positive advertisement. But, since they didn’t kick gay people out of ENDA, maybe they are still cool. WTF?

Comments are closed.