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Success! ABC Cancels Trans-Insensitive ‘Work It’

Success! ABC Cancels Trans-Insensitive ‘Work It’

 

ABC has announced it has pulled the plug on highly controversial and poorly rating show Work It, a sitcom about two men who dress up as women in order to get a job and then must keep up the pretense while navigating the trials and tribulations of daily office life.

Via the Hollywood Reporter:

The network has pulled the critically panned cross-dressing comedy — a project only ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee seemed to love — after two episodes. Repeats of Tim Allen’s freshman comedy Last Man Standing will air in its place beginning Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

[...]

Work It premiered lower than its canceled predecessor, Man Up, on Jan 3, drawing a 2.0 in the key adults 18-49 demographic and luring 6.1 million viewers. Its second airing tumbled 20 percent, dropping to a 1.6 in the demo and 5.1 million viewers.

The show, widely panned as terminally unfunny by TV critics, drew the ire of LGBT rights groups and many in the trans community over its reliance on gender binary stereotypes that, even though the show did not in fact have any trans characters or make specific reference to the trans community, might easily serve to reinforce negative ideas about trans women.

GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign were particularly critical of the show, taking out a full page ad in Variety that urged ABC not to air the sitcom. The ad noted concerns that “by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.”

ABC execs had defended the show as being harmless but did eventually agree to meet with LGBT rights groups to hear their concerns.

The subsequent demise of the show has been welcomed by GLAAD.

From the GLAAD press release:

“While many of ABC’s positive and groundbreaking portrayals of LGBT people have been critical and popular successes, the public had little interest in this outdated show,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs and Communications at GLAAD. “As a result of this campaign, an important dialogue has been started in Hollywood and mainstream media about the real discrimination faced by transgender people today.”

Nearly 4, 600 people signed a Care2 petition calling on ABC to abandon Work It.

Thank you to all those who took action and helped raise awareness.

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53 comments

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9:53AM PDT on Apr 27, 2013

Oh dear! let's have a humour-free world, shall we? I didn't see the programme, but if the gender police had their way, no more Tootsie or Mrs Doubtfire or any other films or programmes that feature cross-dressing men. If trans people find it offensive, well, I find such thought control and censorship offensive.Isn't that what goes with a "free" society? I despair of the pc mentality that would leach al humour out of the world.

5:16AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

As a trans woman in the workplace, I was horrified that this show would air. I don't pass as female, but that's coming, so me in a dress at work, with makeup on, wig and with a female name WOULD, not could, but would be associated with this show, and then it becomes okay to laugh at me and my very sincere transitioning to female. I've been laughed at enough, trans people in general have been laughed at enough. This would have only perpetuated the attitude of "it's okay to laugh at the trans people, they aren't real people after all."

And since it's still okay to fire us without reason, or for simply being trans, still okay to beat us, even when you are an officer of the law, still okay to kill us, this is not an attitude that needs to be fostered at all.

2:34AM PST on Jan 20, 2012

I remember when the Black And White Minstrels used to be on tv, *which goes to show how old I am* White men in black face paint. If the same show aired today there would be a hell of a scandal and quite rightly so. The same applies. Yes, I liked the movie Tootsie and most of the comedies back then always seem to involve putting a man in a dress. In fact the Goddies: Tim Brooke Taylor, Graham Garden and Bill Oddie used to joke how every other episode they were putting Tim into a dress. Harmless fun back then but now people are better educated and more aware that this kind of humour is no longer appropriate. A few years ago on hey Hey It's Saturday, a group did a skit for Red Faces and one of them came out in black face paint. It was embarrassing and many people were offended. Yet these guys thought it was all right because they did the same skit twenty years ago and got huge laughs.
It's a different world now and I am hoping, a better one where people are not mocked because of who they are.

5:44PM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Louise D. I think your post is fantastic!!!! I couldn't agree with you more. I loved the show. I thought it was very funny and refreshing. In no way was anyone being made fun of. I looked forward to watching it every Tuesday. There are plenty of "shows" on television that I don't like or I think are offensive and I don't watch them. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought it was a good show.

5:36AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

Thank you.

2:42AM PST on Jan 19, 2012

IT IS SAD THAT A HEALTHY SHOW WITH GOOD HUMOR HAS BEEN REMOVED. As a retired counselor and a female in her 60's, I found WORK IT to be a refreshing, funny show. And...it is a program that allowed men to see women from a different angle: one where women were looked at with a greater appreciation. ABC PLEASE PUT THIS SHOW BACK ON THE AIR! There are movies that were, and still are greatly appreciated by the public that were on this same level of excellence. It is too bad that a small majority of the population is allowed to rule.

2:12PM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Yes

7:45AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

It would have been a shame if "Tootsie" had not been made. That movie not only makes a comment about male/female relations, sexism, but is also a pointed comment at the entertainment industry, re soaps and storytelling. I enjoy Dustin Hoffman's performances, and this is one of his best.

Older sitcoms/Britcoms, such as Three's Company, Are You Being Served? etc. had stories where men dressed as women for some reason. I recall a Three's Company episode where Jack Tripper (played by the late John Ritter) entered a cake recipe in a contest, and won the chance to be a finalist and prepare it for a panel of judges. The only kicker - turns out the contest was only open to women! So Jack dressed in women's clothes/hair/makeup and tried to go through with winning the contest. He was caught out and disqualified, purely on the basis of being a man. The merits of his cake recipe were considered irrelevant.

6:50AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

It was an idea - probably based on the movie 'Tootsie'. Funny, that movie probably would not have been made now considering how GLAAD and other gay organizations have such power. I believe this show was cancelled because it was no good, not because an organization objected. This show was supposed to be a comedy - lighten up GLAAD.

3:26AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

That may have worked 30 years ago, but consciousness has advanced.

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