The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has hit out at ABC over new sitcom Work It, saying that it risks reinforcing negative ideas about trans people.
The sitcom, which guest blogger Kelli Busey first wrote about for Care2 here, is about two “guy’s guys” who find themselves unemployed due to today’s bad economy. Unable to find employment, they dress in drag to get hired by an all-female pharmaceutical company. Both ABC exec Paul Lee and actress Rebecca Mader defended ABC’s Work It saying that it is no way a swipe at the trans community and refuse the notion that the show is offensive.
GLAAD, however, says that whether offense was meant or not, Work It risks reinforcing crude notions about trans people. From the GLAAD blog:
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.”
These problems are even more pronounced in the show’s printed ad, which depicts the two main characters dressed as women while standing at men’s room urinals. Not only does it inadvertently further notions that transgender identities are humorous or artificial, but imagery like this are one of the first things anti-LGBT activists resort to when trying to deny transgender people protections against discrimination.
We ask that ABC recognize this fact, 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. The fact is ABC should not air this show at all, as it will contribute to a climate in which transgender people are something to be laughed at, rather than treated with the respect and dignity that everyone deserves.
Most other commentators, while not addressing the gender identity issues in the show, have slammed the premise for being half-baked, full of buzz words and ill-conceived.
ABC has not released a statement regarding the bad press the show has received but there are rumors that execs will meet with LGBT rights groups to discuss the show.
Image taken from promo materials under fair use terms, no infringement intended.