ABC Pulls The Plug On Work It, Its Universally Detested Drag Comedy

Clueless ABC entertainment prez Paul Lee finally got the memo: Work It blows royal monkey balls.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news last night, saying the network has cancelled the show after only two episodes, due to low ratings.

Gay groups have been against the show even before it aired, claiming it was harmful to transgender people looking for jobs in a workplace that, in many states, can legally discriminate against them. GLAAD and HRC even took out an ad in Variety urging ABC to abort the show before its debut.

“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portrayals of LGBT people have been critical and popular successes, the public had little interest in this outdated show,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs and Communications at GLAAD.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.”

Our thoughts on the show before it aired were: If Work It‘s transphobic, is political action to get it canceled really the answer? Why not let the show be axed due to the low ratings it’s likely to get?

The people have spoken.

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  • christopher di spirito

    Never saw it so I have no opinion. What I do find curious is people hated it before it ever aired. So they obviously hated the idea more than the show itself.

  • ngblog

    And therein lies the sad part; while those who initially spoke out against the show
    weren’t wrong, it seems in the end they were motivated by their hate than anything

  • me

    I’m planning an anti-cis protest here in Boston. We’re going to stand outside Jacques and glitter bomb all those drag queens! They’re just as bad as ABC! Evil cis-males or MAABs dressing up like wholesome Trans-womyn for entertainment purposes!

  • Alexa

    @christopher di spirito: GLAAD’s objections came AFTER they viewed the pilot: “by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.”

  • Evan Mulvihill

    @christopher di spirito @Alexa: : Alexa is right — everyone receives screeners prior to the pilot airing, to “build buzz.” That’s why critics and institutions were so shitty toward it. Might be a better strategy for ABC PR in the future to keep a shitty show’s pilot and episodes under wraps before airing, though.

  • Cam

    The Puerto Ricans were protesting it for completely different reasons. One of the lines in it had one of the people talking about how good at selling drugs somebody would be because they were Puerto Rican.

    This wasn’t just Transgenders protesting the show.

  • kendoll

    Gotta be hard to predict what shit people will watch. For sure this shit never sounded too funny not to mention made little sense.

  • ron

    I never saw it, but it did sound stupid and lame. Now if they would just get rid of all the other crappy TV shows that we have the priviledge of paying $70 a month for…..

  • Savannah

    @ngblog: Good point! My dislike for the show was in no way motivated by the fact that it projects a false image of men ‘gaining advantage’ in our society by dressing as/acting as/”becoming” women (and therefore falsely suggesting that women have it so much easier), or that it presents, at best, a superficial and meaningless presentation of who a trans woman might be (when in fact our mainstream media contains hardly any accurate or at least humanizing portrayals of real trans women), or that the show pretended to take on themes that *might* be interesting had they been explored by someone who actually had any creativity or at least genuine curiosity about the world but instead reduced these concepts to a plot-line that probably took all of two minutes to think up. Nope! My dislike for the show as a nasty vengeful trans woman was motivated by unadulterated bloodthirsty hate. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • gdawg

    I finally watched this show since you guys were foaming at the mouth about it. I honestly don’t see the big deal. They were not negative towards trans or the LGBT community and It’s certainly not the first time this scenario been done. Just not as a television series. The first episode was actually kinda funny. I just don’t understand the outrage.

    It’s a shame, I think the latin guy was kinda cute too

  • Mike UK

    we don’t get it over here and doubt it will see the light of day on UK tv but then again E4 bought Perfect Couples and Charlies Angels which I believe both were cancelled before they even got halfway through the first season!

  • QJ201

    Seriously, it has come to this? Trans people protesting drag queens at a gay bar?

  • Price Waterhouse

    Congrats, trannies. Only YOU are allowed to crossdress and only if you are dead serious about it. Otherwise, the supposedly gay organizations will have to spend more of their money taking out more worthless ads.

  • Esculapio Mitiríades Torquemada de la Cueva

    @QJ201: I assumed Me was being ironic …

  • christopher di spirito

    @Alexa: I’m aware of GLAAD’s objections. However, I don’t make my television viewing decisions based on the pack mentality of GLADD, HRC or any other activist group or organization. As I said, I never saw ‘Work It’ so I have no POV of the show. I just find it curious that people (NOT GLAAD) formed an opinion of the program BEFORE it ever aired.

  • Riker

    @me: I honestly hope you’re just a troll. then again, your rhetoric isn’t too far from what actual trans-activists say.

  • Savannah

    @christopher di spirito: Yet I notice those who accuse us of ‘overreacting’ or pre-judging the show never acknowledge or even attempt to discuss the fact that the show was based on a misogynistic notion that “have men have it tougher in this world.” (even setting aside questions related to trans issues, can you address that?).

    I wonder, what would you think of a show featuring two straight cis men who, frustrated with the ‘oppression’ of living as straight men, adopted superficial gay characteristics (boozy? sexually promiscuous? parties all the time?) and pretended to have sex with men in order to improve their chances of employment? Do you really think some laugh line on that show could redeem such an obviously false premise?

  • NG

    @Savannah: Nice try, Savannah. I spent two weeks trying to get the leadership that represents theLGBT community here into doing an Occupy ABC thing here and all I got was internet static from everyone.

    Even when I pointed out how Puerto Ricans were quick to utilize Facebook, Twitter, Google+, their blogs and get everyone over to the WABC studios, there were telling me the Puerto Rican community had no business protesting.

    In the end it was about hating a show for the sake thereof. In the end, it was the Puerto Rican community that helped to get the show cancelled. Not you, not GLAAD, not the HRC.

  • WillBFair

    Imo, it was cheaply made, but it explored many interesting aspects of gender and tolerance. It also expressed a sympathetic viewpoint and could have been ground breaking and educational.
    But the trans community have screwed us over again, by claiming, yet again, that it’s all about them, and that they’re being disrespected.
    Newsflash: Work It was not about trans gendered people. It was about drag. Get it? Got it? Good.
    But I forgot. Trans activists have contempt for gay culture, so drag, gender bending, and camp itself are now being outlawed. And we’re supposed to sit still for that?
    It wasn’t bad enough that they destroyed enda after we’d worked on it for thirty years.
    These days, they’re telling lies about our best spokespeople: Barney, Dan Savage, that Canadian editor, and who knows who else is on the list.
    Their language police are working overtime to invent ways to label gay men transphobic. When should we use a birth name? When should we not? Which complex term is ok in which rarefied scenario? Who the hell cares. They’ve got a stack of hateful names for us: priviedged, white, transphobic, cis gay man, to name a few.
    Now they’re rigging a list of good and bad pronouns to trip us up. Please. Pronouns? And we’re supposed to accept that?
    I used to have a ton of concern for the trans community. That was before seeing the trans activists’ contempt for us in a thousand different flavors. Until they start showing us the respect an ally deserves, I’d just as soon they be drummed out of the movement altogether.

  • Erik

    I didn’t watch it, but I could have saved ABC, and the gay rights groups who protested it, time and money by telling them no one else would, either.

  • JAW

    watch it on HULU or if you have comcast… check “On Demand”

    It was Straight men that were able to get it off the air… the show made men in general look dumb… and now the Trannies are trying to take credit… LOL… Tooo funny

    The show was not bad… all it was was a stupid farce.

  • christopher di spirito

    @Savannah: Your premise is faulty. Assuming ‘Work It’ was “misogynistic” glances over the larger problem viewers reported about the show. Viewers said it was poorly written, poorly acted and, not funny. Not everything in life fits neatly into the hackneyed categories circa’ 1960 ending in “istic” or “ism”. Your organization of reality suggests you’ve stopped thinking rationally. Sometimes, a TV comedy simply sucks. Get over it, Savannah.

  • Savannah

    @christopher di spirito: Try reading my first comment where I basically said the same thing you did: “the show pretended to take on themes that *might* be interesting had they been explored by someone who actually had any creativity or at least genuine curiosity about the world but instead reduced these concepts to a plot-line that probably took all of two minutes to think up” In other words the show had no creativity behind it and obviously it wasn’t funny. The lack of creativity dovetails with trying to get cheap laughs off of dumb gender stereotypes and misogyny. In other words my premise agrees with yours, but merely places that premise in a larger social context. I don’t get why that would irks some people so much.

  • Interesting

    if this were a show that remade Cruising or other stories that revitalized the idea that homosexuality was a mental health disease, would be okay with that?

  • BlindedNYC

    I saw the show, and I found it to be offensive because it wasn’t funny, rather than it’s portrayal of the GLBT community.

    It’s a slippery slope to try to criticize the portrayal of our community on TV, especially comedy. I mean, comedy, especially TV comedy generalizes and pokes fun at all kinds of demographic slices, from busy body moms to over achievers. I think it’s that mirror about the common traits that makes TV somewhat relatable and humorous.

    Personally, I’m more interested in how we’re portrayed in non comedy TV shows. I think the Work it fiasco is completely over shadowed by a well adjusted, couple on Modern Family.

  • Roland

    As a gay man, I don’t like to be grouped in with Trans Gender people (LGBTQ). While there may certainly be people who are men trapped in a womans body, and vice versa. I don’t donate my money to HRC for them, I donate it for me and my partner, so we can get married. I don’t support anyone who wants to glitter bomb a drag queen, or protest a gay bar. I’ll think twice before donating to HRC again.

  • Esculapio Mitiríades Torquemada de la Cueva

    @Mrs. Cynthia Rosenthal: Any chance you’re the next item on the agenda?

  • Shannon1981

    This was a tough one. I agonized over signing the petition to get Work It cancelled. I don’t want to turn into anyone’s thought police, but I really don’t think we are at a point where this kind of thing is ok. There are still people out there- a LOT of people- who think of trans women in this way, and that is simply not ok. I think a serious, real portrayal of transgender men and women is in order before we start endorsing stuff like this. JMHO.

  • JohnM77

    @WillBFair: I totally agree. I do NOT understand transgendered people from a personal level. I have a sexual preference for men. I don’t have any idea what it’s like to be born in the wrong body (nor do I particularly care). I am no more comfortable around a transgendered person then your average straight person. I am sick of all the LGBT issues being grouped together. I wish they would split and to each his own. I have no more knowledge of the plight of transgendered people then I do blacks, or Woman, and while their rights are equally important, the gay community isn’t tied at the wrists to them. SEPERATE GAY AND TRANSGENDERED ISSUES!!!!!

  • Mrs. Cynthia Rosenthal

    Esculapio there’s no need to be rude. I just thought the show was well written and reminded me of a classic show like I Love Lucy. Would you have boycotted that show because Lucy sometimes dressed as a man to get into Ricky’s act?

  • Shannon1981

    @JohnM77: @WillBFair: The thing is, people who, like yourselves, wish to separate the LGB from the T, forget two things:

    1) The discrimination we all face comes from the same place. To the heterosexual community, we are all one big group of freaks who defy everything they believe to be normal and right as far as gender goes- everything from who we date and sleep with right up to presentation. That is just the way it is. Thanks to that fact, it makes sense to be “LGBT.”

    2) Gender identity and sexual orientation are inextricably linked as far as rights go. If we got a version of ENDA passed that did not include gender identity, while they couldn’t fire you for simply being gay, they could fire you for being too femme if you are a gay guy or too masc if you are a gay girl. So, yes, for ALL of our sakes, we need gender identity in there. Same with the bathroom issue. There needs to be gender neutral bathrooms. Do you know how many butch- but completely female- lesbians have straight women shrieking at them in public restrooms? Once again, the same things trans folks are asking for also benefit gay people. Remember that next time you want to dump on the trans community and get them away from our movement.

  • Esculapio Mitiríades Torquemada de la Cueva

    @Mrs. Cynthia Rosenthal: Yeah, maybe I took it too far, but:

    1) “The homosexual agenda”? Really? If you’re posting in a gay site, you should probably be aware of how not-good that sounds.

    2) “Delightful romp”? No. The show sucked.

    3) It wasn’t just the gays who hated this. Does “I’m Puerto-Rican. I’d be great at selling drugs!” ring a bell?

    4) If this show had been a hit, Liberace himself could have come down from heaven and revealed to humanity that gays are the chosen people, and even then we couldn’t have gotten this show killed. It died because of poor ratings. That’s how TV works.

  • Chris

    @Shannon1981: Exactly right. Discrimination hugely overlaps for us, and we are stronger together than we are apart. Giving each letter its own group would just lead to a plethora of useless groups that can easily be steamrolled.

    I find it funny that commenters here, on one of the more divisive areas in the gay blogosphere, are acting like there is one monolith of transgender advocates out there. If anything, in my experience transgender advocates have even more wide-ranging views than gays.

  • Alan Brickman

    If your life can fall apart over a crappy show…what kind of life was it in the first place?….Grow some guts already!!

  • Daez

    @Alexa: Me, kind of has a point referencing what you are stating. Drag queens do make their living by basically mocking transgendered people’s attempts at “real” womanhood. They go out of their way to be outrageous and over the top. They in no way represent the transgendered world. Yet, they are often looked at when people think transgendered. Should we start boycotting drag shows now because the intent of the show is to amuse the audience?

  • Shannon1981

    @Chris: Yeah, while we can be gay without being trans, there are also plenty of LGB trans people. You can’t separate the two on a legal level.

    Besides, that, believe me, I would love to be able to spare myself the pain and humiliation of straight damsels in distress thinking I am a man in public restrooms. A gender neutral option would be a dream come true. We’re all one and the same when it comes to how the straight community views us. We would do well to remember that.

  • Cam

    The other issue nobody has really mentioned yet other than to reference Bossum Buddies, is to point out that Hollywood is basically out of ideas.

    You can watch a brand new TV series and every episode is basically the plotline from another series you’ve already seen with a few unimportant parts changed.

    How do the writers get paid when all they do is recycle something that somebody else already wrote a few years ago?

  • John

    @Shannon1981: I think even on a larger context, Martin Luther King Jr said it best when he said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere”. I’m against the plight of Trans People for the same reason I’m against the plight of gay people, African Americans, or anyone else who faces the bitterness and violence of oppression. If we don’t fight for others rights, who will stand up and fight for ours?

  • Savannah

    @John: @Shannon1981: As a trans woman who is against oppression in all forms, thank you both, finally two people in this thread who can see the big picture.

  • Shannon1981

    @Savannah: Thank you for being on our side as well as your own. We really do need to realize that while gender identity and sexual orientation are different, yes- that the two overlap a whole lot when it comes to rights and discrimination. As a genderqueer female bodied human who loves other female bodied humans, I am proud to be under both the gay, and to an extent, the trans umbrellas. Together, we can conquer this thing. United we stand, divided we fall.

  • Shannon1981

    @John: Great point, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the smartest, most fair men to ever live. He simply wanted justice for ALL people. How fitting to quote him today. :)

    He was so right. Yes, we should all be worrying about the rights of all people, not just the groups we belong to.

  • JohnM77

    Honestly, after reading the messages after my own, I am somewhat confused. I am ashamed to say I don’t really know a lot about transgendered people. And I know I am not alone. Sure I know what every kid in HS knows and a bit more, but I doubt I know much more then your average straight person. I don’t know the terminology, what is polite and what isn’t polite to say. The actual different kinds of transgendered persons there are, and the various phases they may or may not go through in life. I guess it has always been easier to think of it as a, that’s THERE problem. But to be honest, I think myself and a lot of other gay men don’t really know as much as we should know about transgendered people, and to be honest it makes me uncomfortable. The people themselves don’t make me uncomfortable, it’s the lack of education I have personally on transgenders and their/our issues. I think I will try and learn more about the T at the end of our LGBT after reading all of your comments, I feel ignorant. I guess I just always thought it was easier to separate myself instead of trying to intermingle and say something inappropriate by accident and look the fool.
    P.S. And I don’t know how true that comment was about drag queens getting glitter bombed, but that’s just uncool. My friends that do drag just go out to dress up and have a good time, and no disrespect has ever been made at any drag show I have been to. Drag has been around for millennia. I hope both groups can come to an understanding on that somehow, I really don’t think anyone is trying to cause intentional malice

  • Shannon1981

    @JohnM77: Lots of LGB folks know little to nothing about the T in LGBT. Its awesome of you to admit that. I suggest googling stories of transgender transitions, visiting a few of the countless blogs on the subject, and going to the many youtube videos that show transitions. I think that would go a long way to understanding. Kudos to you for wanting to learn.

  • Gr1zz

    @Savannah: Did you ever hear of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry?

    I saw only the second episode, more out of apathy than anything else. It looked like sort of a backwards and possibly updated version of Bosum Buddies (also, by the way, an ABC show), except for the guys having to play the part of women at work, instead of at home. It sounded like it might have some potential, so I didn’t bother to change the channel.

    After watching only episode 2, I was unaware of any trans-phobia, although there was kind of a strange thing about pushing orientation/gender. I expected it was “for the formula”, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen Bosom Buddies that I couldn’t say for sure.

    It looked like the two guys were pressured to adopt a female job ID to get employment, in a field that quite likely has a significant amount of reverse discrimination. With the employment market in it’s current situation, it wouldn’t be that far fetched to see someone trying anything to get an edge in the job market.

    The idea of a drug company specifically looking for female sales people to target male doctors sounds, if anything, too credible. Combined with one of they guys having no knowledge of the product they were trying to sell (another very real situation I’ve found in retail environments), and the other actually bothering to learn about what he was trying to sell, it seemed to have at least some basis in reality.

    I’m guessing that it was an easy target, and it likely just wasn’t compelling enough to hold an audience. Anyone claiming “Victory” over it’s cancellation sounds like someone claiming they won a baseball game that was called on account of flood!

  • Savannah

    @JohnM77: Hi John, thank you for your honest comment. I think I can understand where you are coming from. While it’s not so realistic for me to give a trans 101 or anything here in the comments section on Queerty, I will just mention a couple of quick points regarding language. One thing is, I would avoid using the word “transgendered” in the future. While it might have been used at one time, it sounds a bit awkward to us, almost like a medical condition or something. Personally I prefer to just be referred to as “trans” or better yet, a trans woman. Again thank you for your sincere comment.

    @Shannon1981: Even if we’re coming from slightly different places, glad we can share a bit of the same space out there in genderland… I bet you’re really cute too :-)

    @Gr1zz: The show isn’t necessarily _deeply_ transphobic, but there is no question that many in the general public will instantly have trans issues in their heads when processing what they see. What appears on the show then is completely superficial and meaningless, so the main point is that it will get in the way of having meaningful dialogue about real trans issues. I will acknowledge that some of those opposed to the show have simplified that argument a bit, and maybe some of that came off a bit shrill. So that is an honest comment from me.

    Further, the point that women have it easier in this economy, or at least in this sector of the economy, is, I think, debatable. Generally women still make less money for doing the same jobs as men here in North America. I agree there might be some exceptions to that out there, but this show is not clever enough to present any of that in any meaningful perspective.

    I agree the show probably flubbed in large part because it just wasn’t funny or creative. But then again it wasn’t creative in part because it relies on dumb gender stereotypes and it has no imagination to it.

  • Jason

    @Price Waterhouse: Don’t use the word “tranny.” It was invented by the porn industry to subjugate and fetishize transsexual women so they would be more marketable as sex objects. You wouldn’t go around referring to all women as sluts, so don’t call all transsexuals “trannies.” It’s just flat out rude. You can have your opinion, but take the time to be respectful in how you say it, please.

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