ABC is under attack by gay and transgender groups for the new sitcom “Work It,” set to premiere January 3rd. The premise of the show is that two unemployed men have to dress in drag to find work, which LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi- and transsexual) activists say demeans real transsexuals.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and GLAAD bought an ad (pictured) in Daily Variety to attack the show. The groups say the depiction of straight men trying to act like women – and deliberately acting more like men in dresses and high heels – is harmful to transgender people.
“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. As the ad states, by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women,” GLAAD states.
The two groups have teamed up to demand that ABC pull the show, which is planned as a mid-season replacement. GLAAD is steering people from its website to a page on the HRC website set up to send messages to ABC management. The form letter ends with the statement, “As an ABC viewer, I urge you not to air a show that reinforces negative and damaging stereotypes about transgender people.”
“This show could contribute to the high levels of job discrimination that transgender Americans face and will give license for people to mock and ridicule those whose gender expression might not fit with what society considers the norm,” said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson. “The media should use this as an opportunity to address the huge number of inaccurate or offensive images of transgender people in news and entertainment today.”
“As a network with a record of positive portrayals of LGBT people, ABC should know better than to air this offensive program that even has the potential to jeopardize the safety of transgender people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
RBR-TVBR observation: TV critics who’ve seen the pilot have been pretty unanimous in giving the show negative – extremely negative – reviews. It looks like ABC is taking considerable heat over a show that will be lucky to air two episodes before being canceled.
A promotional trailer is below.