BY ANDREA HOUSTON – Tonight (Jan 3), the crossdressing comedy Work It premieres in Canada on CityTV and, if you listen closely, you’ll hear a collective groan from Canada’s queer community.
Make that anyone with even a shred of a sense of humour.
The ABC’s synopsis: “With unemployment an ongoing issue and women now outnumbering men in the workforce, the new comedy series Work It follows two alpha males who realize the only way to beat the current ‘mancession’ and land a job in pharmaceutical sales is to pass themselves off as women."
Here’s a preview.
Since the show was announced, queer and trans activists have urged the network not to air it because it “reinforces negative and damaging stereotypes about transgender people,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Activists say the images of guys dressed in women’s clothes would evoke associations with transgender people. The promotional picture features the two lead actors dressed in drag at urinals, an image that will “make it more difficult for transgender people to gain full equality — including the important right to access public accommodations appropriate to their gender identity,” says Mark Snyder, from the Transgender Law Center.
“We ask that ABC keep the show’s bathroom advertisement out of circulation, and seriously consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do,” GLAAD’s Matt Kane wrote.
Work It is nothing more than “a trans minstrel show,” says the Transadvocate. The blog illustrates the point by rewriting the show description replacing references to gender with references to race (blackface).
Remember Soul Man from the ‘80s?
Or White Chicks from 2004? (Also not funny.)
There is a long history in theatre of men dressing up as women (Remember Bosom Buddies?). The reason Tootsie works is because it has a beginning, middle and an end. (It was also the ‘80s and people thought calling someone a “women’s libber” was an insult.)
But in 2012 Work It simply doesn’t work. It looks stupid, dated and just not funny. Surely they don’t expect the show to run a full season. How long will these two men keep up this charade in the office without anyone — especially the women — cluing in to the ruse?
I give the show less than five episodes. And that’s being generous.