In December I wrote at length about the many reasons ABC’s new misogynistic sitcom Work It! was offensive to just about everybody with two ears and a brain. This show, about two men who adopt female identities and dress as women to get hired at a pharmaceutical sales company that only hires women, premiered on January 3rd, and was quite possibly the worst thing I’ve seen on television since that time I recapped Two and a Half Men. Seriously, Work It makes Two and a Half Men look like Fraiser.
Many hoped this show wouldn’t ever make it to air. GLAAD and the HRC were very outspoken about what they perceived to be covert transphobia as well as outright sexism perpetuated by the show. They even gathered a well-signed petition, took out a full-page ad in Variety and put in numerous requests for a meeting with ABC. But SURPRISE! — ABC ignored a bunch of angry queers and women and went on to broadcast this program.
And holy shit did it SUCK.
If you find yourself consistently impressed by the ingeniousness of beer commercials, perhaps you’d like this show, which trots out a series of so-tired-they’re-basically-comatose jokes about how men are neanderthals and women are idiots and lipstick is hard. Over. And Over. And Over.
I’ll spare you (and mostly myself) an actual recap of the program, but before I go on to share with you some encouraging news about the show’s debut ratings (bad) and the overall press reaction to the show (worse), let me get you up to speed with what we’re dealing with here by sharing some of the show’s most obnoxious attempts at “comedy.”
First I’d like to mention that the episode opens at Lee’s super-nice house where his super-nice wife is standing around with pretty hair, being super-awesome, into which Lee enters to mope about his fruitless day of job hunting and suggest that, despite all external appearances to the contrary, the family now must steal ketchup packets to feed themselves. He even had to cancel his daughter’s cell-phone plan!
So we hadn’t even gotten into the gender stuff yet and I was already screaming from my eyeballs.
So, onto the jokes! Lee is at the bar with his bros, where the trio drink beer and moan about the job market:
Angel: “How did this happen?”
Lee: “Well, it’s a recession.”
Brian: “It’s not a recession, it’s a MAN-Cession. Look, women are taking over the workforce, soon they’ll start getting rid of men, they’ll just keep a few of us around as sex slaves.”
Angel: “That part doesn’t sound so bad.”
Brian: “Not the kind of sex you like, Angel. Just kissing and cuddling and [grimaces] LISTENING.”
WOMEN HATE SEX BECAUSE THEY’RE SAPPY SILLY CREATURES WITH TOO MANY FEELINGS HAHAHAHAH!
When Lee overhears a fellow patient at his doctor’s office telling the receptionist that her pharmacuetical sales company is hiring, he jumps right in offering his wide-open work schedule:
Kristin: “Oh, we’re kind of just looking for girls.”
Lee: “Really, why?”
Kristin: “Well, we’ve had some guys, but the doctors seem to want to nail them less.”
ALL WOMEN ARE GOOD FOR IS BEING SEXY HAHAHAHAH ALL MEN CAN DO IS WANT TO FUCK THEM AND THEN BUY PROZAC HAHAHAHA
When Lee has his job interview — for which he has dressed as a woman — the interviewer, Vanessa, says she’s impressed that Lee has experience working in a car dealership. Vanessa, by the way, is the only woman in the office who isn’t inept and doesn’t speak in a chirpy baby voice. She’s actually smokin’ hot, but that is neither here nor there.
Vanessa: “What was it like working there? There couldn’t have been many women.”
Lee: “No, I was the only one.”
Vanessa: “That must have been hard.”
Lee: “Oh it was! The guys were always sassing me or patting my fanny or ogling my tits.”
HAHAHAH SEXUAL HARASSMENT ISN’T REAL GIRLS ARE SO SENSITIVE
Lee goes on to wow the Interviewer with his pre-interview knowledge of the company’s products (because “get to know the company you’re interviewing for” is such a special secret employment trick only men know about):
Vanessa: “Impressive. Most of the girls who interview here think that clinical trials are the things Lindsay Lohan keeps having to go to.”
HAHAHA ONLY MEN CAN DO REAL JOBS WOMEN ARE SO STUPID HAHAHAHA!
After being peer-pressured into tossing out his hoagie in favor of eating a piece of lettuce like a fucking rabbit from hell, Lee hits up Astro Taco, where Angel is suddenly working, and confesses his plan:
Lee: “So, whaddya say?”
Angel: “I don’t know man, you have to understand this kind of thing doesn’t really fly in my culture.”
HAHAHAHA GENDER HAHAHAHA RACE HAHAHAHA
Back in the office, Lee’s doing his very best to work work work because that’s what men do, they WORK! but one of his silly-floozy flower/cardigan co-worker ladies has more important things to discuss like Lee’s horribly unstylish handbag/purse situation. She’s so offended by the purse, in fact, that she bought Lee a new one!
Kristin: “The bag is just a reminder that you’re a woman, and you have needs, you can’t neglect yourself.”
After Angel gets hired, Lee and Angel go out for drinks with their man-hungry lady coworkers:
Angel: “So what is Vanessa like as a boss? Is she all about the job, or does she have a husband?”
Kelly: “No, no husband. I think she might be a LESBIAN.”
Angel [to Lee]: “NICE!”
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST AHAHAHAHAHAHA.
When Lee’s wife keeps calling and he and Angel attempt to dip out and head home:
Kelly: “Hello! Have I gotten drunk and slept with a random guy yet? Nobody is leaving until we dance!”
HAHAHAAH WOMEN ARE SUCH STUPID SLUTS! HAHAHAHAHA!
Needless to say, I haven’t been this excited about a show getting bad ratings since before Showtime stopped releasing Real L Word stats to the public!
The Hollywood Reporter has reported that Work It was the lowest performing original network entry between 8 and 10 pm, posting a 2.0 in its key 18-49 demo, which is a 17 percent drop from its lead-in, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing. The show Work It replaced, Man-Up, had debuted to a 2.4 rating amongst 18-49ers.
However, Futon Critic reports that Work It still pulled in 6.14 million viewers, which unfortunately isn’t too shabby. Last Man Standing earned 7.87 million, and the premiere of Celebrity Wife Swap, which followed Work It, pulled in 6 million viewers. For comparison, The Playboy Club debuted with about 5 million viewers and was cancelled after sinking to 4 million.
What did the critics say?
Angel Cohn from Television Without Pity:
“Work It did manage to put seemingly every single cliché about women and men into the first episode… the women on the show are all catty about handbags, make fun of large women to their faces, only eat salad, are all dumb and only want to talk about their children. The men like to drink in a bar, complain about cuddling and make tasteless jokes about sex.”
Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter:
“When the bile bubbles up contemplating what heinous element of a series to slaughter first, you’ve got a problem. It’s not just that Work It is poorly written, broadly acted and apparently produced without any shame, it’s that any number of people had a chance to say no to the groin-thwack against standards that is this series, but they refused.”
Matt Roush from TV Guide:
“Some like it hot, but more like it funny. By either or any standard, ABC’s atrocious Work It fails miserably. The cornball premise that assumes the sight of men wobbling on high heels and fretting over their panty lines is a scream — it certainly agitates the laugh track — has struck a politically correct nerve with organizations like GLAAD, which feels the show is insulting to transgender people. GLAAD should learn when to pick its battles. Work It is insulting to anyone of any gender with half a brain and a lick of taste. Ignoring it is the best revenge.”
One can only hope that the show will continue to garner absymal ratings and eventually get cancelled, therefore sparing us all the pain of watching the “Work It!” promos during Modern Family.
Ultimately, I found that I was not offended as a woman, as a queer, as a trans ally, or as a person who eventually decided to employ herself because no other human was willing to employ me. I was offended as a WRITER and as a comedian. I was offended as a person who can hear, breathe and read. Because this shit just fucking sucked, y’all.
Really, the saddest recession-related message this show sends is that all these actors were desperate enough for a paycheck that they agreed to be in this show in the first place.
Care to suffer through it yourself? Here you go!