Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.
The show follows two jobless car salesmen who decide the best way to find gainful employment is to jump into the female-dominated field of pharmaceutical sales—as women. (Did someone stay up for a Bosom Buddies marathon on TVLand?)
“By encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women…,” the ad reads. “Since ABC has a record of positive portrayals of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, they should know how offensive this show is, and that it even has the potential to jeopardize the safety of many transgender Americans in the process.”
Back when it was going to air in the fall, we thought the show just sounded lame. But when you consider how hard it can be for transgender people to get jobs in this country, it’s premise might be less than innocent.
“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 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.”
But is GLAAD overreaching? These characters aren’t trans women, after all. They’re guys in dresses—and if anyone understands the difference, its the transgender community. But GLAAD doesn’t trust the viewing public to make that distinction, according to its blog: “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. ”
GLAAD and HRC want the show shut down completely before its January 3 debut and are meeting with ABC execs in the coming days. “At the very least, Work It is offensive and insulting,” a GLAAD rep says. “At worst, the show is downright dangerous and sends a message that transgender people are to be laughed at, or are somehow less-than.”
But if Work It is indeed transphobic, is cancelling the show really the answer?
Why not let the show languish in the low ratings it’s likely going to get. It could be an exercise in American intolerance to dumb transgender-mocking premises?
What do you think—kill it or let it die on its own?
Images via ABC, GLAAD