Work It Gets Failing Grade

The new Bosom Buddies-like TV show is drawing ire from LGBT groups

Courtesy of ABC

Two guys can’t make it in the professional world during a so-called “mancession.” So they dress up as women. Sound familiar? It was the premise for Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks way back when, but the corny plot line has most recently been reincarnated as Work It, a new sitcom debuting Jan. 3 on ABC.

GLAAD and HRC have already criticized the show for its portrayal of gender issues, saying it makes light of real struggles trans people go through in the workplace. The catch? Two out-of-work dudes find out about a company that’s hiring sales reps – but only female ones (like that happens). So they throw on some wigs, panty hose and a slap-dash attempt at makeup (oh, the jokes and jokes) and take the working world by storm.

Silly, right? Pathetic, even. But they better cue the laugh track because LGBT groups definitely aren’t laughing.

Even though the show is centered on two straight guys and makes no mention of transgender people, both GLAAD and HRC accuse the creators of being insensitive about genuine issues facing many real people within the LGBT community. They say that by laughing at two men’s attempt at womenhood, it gives license to laugh at anyone who may be seriously making that transition in a real way.

“The show could contribute to the high levels of job discrimination that transgender Americansface and will give license for people to mock and ridicule those whose gender expression might not fit with what society considers the norm,” says 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.”

A recent report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force finds that transgender Americans can be legally fired in 34 states. And 97 percent of self-identified transgender people report being harassed or abused at work, while 26 percent admit they have lost their jobs because of being transgender.

“As a network with a record of positive portrayals of LGBT people, ABC should know better than to air this offensive program that event has the potential to jeopardize the safety of transgender people,” says HRC President Joe Solmonese.

This is the same network that swept us up in the romance between two female docs on Gray’s Anatomy after all.

And while we haven’t seen the pilot of Work It (and we don’t plan on watching), we have been wondering why so many great new shows with strong women have gone off the air this season – like Prime Suspect (with a very butch Maria Bello) or even The Joy Behar Show – where the host featured no shortage of advocacy and commentary from LGBT spokespeople?

Maybe it’s time to turn the channel.