You didn’t have to actually watch the series premiere of ABC’s new sitcom, Work It, last night to know that it wasn’t funny. While it’s important to fully understand what you’re talking about to render a thoughtful critique, you can definitely make the half-educated guess that a weird, sexist, throwback Bosom Buddies rip-off, multi-camera sitcom about two dudes dressing up like ladies at their new jobs isn’t for you. Because it isn’t. (Who it IS for is a question without an answer. Like the question “how does she do it?” We don’t know! We can’t know!) However, if you did end up watching the series premiere of ABC’s new sitcom, Work It, then you know that although you were definitely right the first time when you thought it wouldn’t be funny, that the ways in which it isn’t funny, and the depths to which it isn’t funny, were shocking even to someone as predisposed against it as you were. Or maybe I’m just talking about myself (as usuuuallll). But the point is, HOLY SHIT THIS SHOW! I was staring goggle-eyed in horrified disgust at my television and shouting NO before they even got to the central cross-dressing conceit. By the time that happened, my head had fallen off and exploded and I’d set it on fire just in case to make sure it stayed dead and kicked it into the rain gutter and punched my television in the face. If the Mayans were right and the world really is going to end this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some hieroglyph on their stone calendar that depicted two dudes in skirt suits from Filene’s Basement (R.I.P., right ladiiiiies?!).

Ostensibly, Work It is supposed to be a sitcom that touches all of our modern nerves. The two main characters, Lee and Angel, have been laid off at their jobs because of the economic crisis. Powerful stuff. Finger on the pulse. And in another world, maybe that upside down one where Kirsten Dunst lives, one could even imagine a show in which the shifting of normative gender roles and the actual challenges and/or victories of women in the workforce were dealt with in a way that was both realistic AND funny. Instead, the show sets up an impossible, offensive premise that no one could even remotely believe in the first place: that we are not struggling through a global economic crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen in three generations, but that companies simply aren’t hiring MEN anymore. They only hire women. HUHHHHHHHHHH?! At first this stupid and dumb and idiotic and embarrassing premise is voiced by the boorish drinking buddy of our two “heroes,” who then makes a joke about eating on the toilet, so it doesn’t seem like we’re supposed to take him too seriously. But in the very next scene, when Lee gets the Glengarry leads about a job as a pharmaceutical rep and points out that he’s perfectly qualified for that job, a woman (yuck) explains the company would never hire him because he’s a man. (Haven’t they ever seen Love and Other Drugs?! Which is so awful but somehow a million times better than this show?!) But, oh, OK, so this IS supposed to be real? Right. Got it. Almost TOO real, I’m sure. It’s, like, SPOOKY how real this is.

To make matters worse–as if that’s even possible–when the woman tells Lee that the pharmaceutical company doesn’t hire men, she explains that it is because doctors don’t want to fuck male pharmaceutical reps. COOOOOOOOOOL. So the already nonsensical premise of this show, that men can’t get jobs because women get all the jobs, also claims that the only reason women get jobs in the first place is because of their fuckability? It is almost like this show is a mirror being held up to society’s AN ASSHOLE’S face.

So Lee decides to wear women’s clothes and BOOM (no duh) he gets the job. Right. No, yeah, totally. Here, again, one could imagine a scenario in which somehow this made some kind of commentary about the shifting mores of society that a powerful pharmaceutical company would so readily hire a transgendered woman for a public relations job, because whatever they were just saying in the scene prior about how women only get hired for their fuckability couldn’t possibly apply to Lee in his dress. He looks like a linebacker and he sounds like a teenager making a prank phone call. And yet we are now supposed to believe that all of the women in his office definitely think he is also a woman just like them. How many shaky premises are going to be stacked on top of each other? And how many people will be killed when the structure comes toppling down?

At which point they aired the first commercial sponsor of the evening: a sexist ad for Crystal Light.

WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON HERE?! Or perhaps the better question is WHEN IS GOING ON HERE?!

When Lee comes home to break the exciting news to his wife that he got a new job, he invites her to go celebrate. At the shitty dive bar where he drinks with his friends. With his friends. When she declines and says she’s going to stay home, he says, “OK, I’ll just come home later and wake you up for sex,” and this is supposed to be a joke insofar as we are supposed to recognize this as a thing that we’ve all experienced and can relate to, but it’s not supposed to be him TELLING a joke. This is really the way he behaves. She gets mad and he DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY. It’s worth pointing out that they have a TEENAGE DAUGHTER, which implies a solid 15-20 years together (if we’re using the standard model and not the shotgun wedding model) and still he’s just a subhumanly oblivious piece of shit? Let’s root for him! At the end of the episode, he convinces his wife that he is a changed man who is more sensitive to her needs and is going to be less selfish. How does he do this? By BRINGING HER A HANDBAG. This is like that Mel Gibson movie, What Women Want, if that movie were a DOCUMENTARY.

There are, of course, a handful of scenes in which we get to learn what WOMEN are REALLY LIKE but through the EYES of a MAN. Did you know that women read books? And eat salad? It’s crazy what happens behind powder room doors. They are also bitchy to each other! And drink cosmos! Here, again, the argument seems to be that the world of women is strange and impossible for a man to navigate, which is obviously a very sexist reading of it, but has at least some bare minimum of truth to it insofar as the worlds of men and women have their differences and at certain times this can lead to a minor breakdown in communication and/or some lapses in judgement or misguided suppositions and what have you (literally the building blocks of situational comedy). But on this show the way men and women behave towards each other isn’t so much a matter of men being from Mars and women being from Venus so much as it is men being from Huh? (orbited by a Shithead Moon) and women being from Oh, Girl, No, Come On!

Example: when Lee’s best friend Angel (who at one point makes a joke about how he would be great at selling drugs because he’s Puerto Rican, because this show wants to make sure you know that it is also racist) comes in for his job interview (dressed as a lady, obviously) he blows the interview at first by telling his prospective boss that her “ass looks tight in that skirt.” What? Like, in what world would one human being say that to another human being during a professional non-exotic-dancer job interview regardless of how high one’s heels were or how deeply one had one’s dick tucked between one’s legs? That’s horrible. Two seconds later, Angel breaks the news to Lee that he doesn’t think he’s going to get hired because Lee didn’t tell him that the woman who would be interviewing him was going to be so hot, and he GOT A BIG BONER. During a job interview? At an office? As an adult?

This is insane. I feel insane just talking about it.

It seems all but inevitable that Work It will not last long. Or at least one hopes. But it’s the simple fact that it made it onto the air in the first place that is the troubling part. It’s very hard to get a television show made. It requires a lot of people signing important documents, and incredible, morally offensive amounts of money, and hard-working creative people* working long hours to put together scripts and rehearse their lines. It’s a big deal! And at any point along the way, someone can and often does stand up and say, “Nah, forget it.” Sometimes they don’t make a pilot. Sometimes they make a pilot and don’t make any episodes. Sometimes they make some episodes and then think better of it. But Work It jumped through all the hoops and everyone at ABC agreed that, yes, this is something we should keep doing and keep investing money and time and effort and good will and branding power into. This, one assumes someone at ABC said with a straight face, is something that people in America will want and enjoy, that they will find hilarious and that they will relate to. And that is probably the most offensive thing about it. That and everything else.

*As this essay by the guy who created Shit My Dad Says points out, the people who currently work on your favorite TV show probably worked on a show that you couldn’t believe existed in the past, and I think that’s true, and I’m sure even Work It had someone talented hidden somewhere deep inside there. But good GOD!
Comments (45)
  1. Damn, Gabe. You watched that? For us? You must really care.*

    *or, possibly, stood to win a bet that involved sitting through this show

  2. Well this is just completely unfair. Gabe, maybe it’s because you’ve been a professional blogger so long that you’re out of touch with the way the workforce operates, but sometimes people DO get big ol’ boners at work in the middle of the day. It’s not a choice, you can’t judge people for what nature does to them!

  3. Possible inspiration:

  4. “That Sucre”
    -Kanye

  5. But what I really want to know is, did they get the job?

  6. In this show’s defense, I’m pretty sure that getting a boner is usually the reason straight men wear women’s clothes.

  7. I thought this was the VH1 Behind the Music for Ke$ha for at least the first 10 minutes.

  8. I’m surprised 6 million people watched this last night. Other than TV bloggers doing this for “research purposes only,” who are these people and why are they voluntarily watching this show?

    I’d potentially chalk it up to people not turning the channel after the lead-in, but who in their right mind watches that gawd awful Tim Allen show either?

  9. This would only be ok if it is a stealth reboot of Quantum Leap, and next episode has Sam Beckett jumping into one of the characters and making the show be not horrible.

    Also, just this recap made me want to set something on fire with the power of my hate.

  10. “So the already nonsensical premise of this show, that men can’t get jobs because women get all the jobs, also claims that the only reason women get jobs in the first place is because of their fuckability?”

    It also implies that all doctors are male…or lesbians.

    • Yeah, but that’s only because all the other jobs were taken by WOMEN, so the dudes had nothing better to do than to go to college for the 10 or so years required to be a doctor.

    • This actually did happen during the 90′s, sort of. The drug companies had many older reps who knew their stuff and could actually educate the doctors on the new drugs. They were making a good living. They were replaced, usually just short of retirement, by young Barbies and Kens (mostly Barbies) who worked for much less. That being said, this show was horrible.

  11. I’m hoping they know that the series will be short-lived, and they’ve set up a whole storyline where these guys get busted as fakes, get arrested for forgery (because you have to show identification in order to be employed, so they must have bought or made fake IDs), and they go to jail. Given the nature of their crime, they should do well there. Cut to several years later, when the white guy gets stabbed in the showers, and the Puerto Rican guy meets his new replacement roommate — WENTWORTH MILLER!

  12. Sometimes I’m convinced that these stories are written by stoners who are hoping to get it through to production as a joke. If you watch these sitcoms after indulging in some THC, they are really funny. It’s almost like they were written by stoners for stoners.

  13. But what about ¡Rob, Gabe? What about ¡¿Rob?!

  14. I would like to mention the one thong vaguely approaching humor. Crazy girl tells obvious man about the boook club, which ladies are crazy about, and says spoiler alert she dies about the main character. I was so happy to hear something vaguely funny maybe that I actually laughed

  15. Backlash was published twenty years ago. Just thought I’d make a note of that.

  16. Relax, Gabe, they’re not being sexist. The whole concept is just a thinly-veiled metaphor for how hard it’s become for Americans to find jobs because of all the immigrants.

  17. Did everyone read this thing about the “Friends Mafia”? It explains this show a little bit, but in a way that makes you shake your head like a paint mixer.

  18. The opening joke comparing a prostate exam to the pinball scene in the Accused was my favorite. It’s funny cause it’s true, right?

  19. You really shouldn’t get so hung up about the plausibility of this show. It’s all about the characters and everything else is just a mystery that will never be explained because it isn’t necessary because characters something something.

  20. What I learned is that I should drink more Crystal Light (instead of water?) because no man wants a fatty to forage with them on a beach.

  21. Wow, a “Work It” review. Really?

    I think that Gabe’s mental and emotional health must be fully recovered.

    You know what this means… The return of WMOAT!!!‼

  22. Crystal Light: Cos you never know (when you might be involved in a horrific plane crash)

    “I need someone to help me find fresh water, so we can have something to put this delicious Crystal Light into.”

    • duh, when the plane crashes, they won’t have food so they’ll lose weight so super quickly. you don’t even need crystal light. man, being a woman is awesome.

  23. I do my best to battle my inner snarkmonster and my ironic hipster demon (his name is Pableau). I really try not to say mean things about people who are just trying to get through this world as best they can, a courtesy I often extend to the fruits of their labours no matter how unpalatable I find said fruits or how questionable I personally find their methods. I mean, they probably don’t mean any harm, or at least not much. They’re not literally raping and pillaging, right? So give them some credit. Having said all that, that Crystal Light ad is not very good and no-one involved in its production is making the most of the time they’ve been given.

  24. the dudes had nothing better to do than to go to college for the 10 or so years required to be a doctor.Maybe you should check out http://www.richsingleclub.com . It’s the largest and best club for seeking CEOs, athletes, doctors, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, beauty queens, fitness models, and Hollywood celebrities. It also features certified m illionaire and verified beautiful women. What’s the most important is: you dont have to be a m illionaire, but you can meet one. I believe you will success there since I found my true love there.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.