GLAAD's full-page ad denounces ABC cross-dressing sitcom 'Work It'
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and two other activist groups have taken out a full-page ad in Wednesday’s edition of Variety calling on ABC to kill a midseason sitcom, “Work It,” about straight guys who dress in drag to land jobs.
Under the headline, “Work It Doesn’t Work,” the advocacy groups say the show “invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance,” making it “easier to mock” transgender people in the real world.
The text of the ad, taken largely from an open letter posted on GLAAD’s blog, aims to “elevate the conversation” about what life is like for transgender people, said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s senior director of programs.
“The truth is, transgender people often have a very hard time finding a job and of those who do, more than one-quarter are fired because of their transgender identity,” Graddick said. “We wanted to lay out some statistics about how difficult it is for transgender people in our society to make a living.”
In addition to calling attention to the economic realities, Graddick said the groups want to put a spotlight on what they consider an “archaic” premise for a TV show.
“From what we’ve seen, it’s caricaturish and not on the leading edge of respectful media treatment,” he said.
ABC remains mum on the subject, with “Work It” still set to launch Jan. 3 on its midseason schedule.
Leaders of the organizations aren’t saying there’s no room for gender-bending entertainment a la “Tootsie” or even “Bosom Buddies,” but they didn’t find “Work It” to contain a smart level of social commentary on par with those previous projects, he said.
As a watchdog group, GLAAD has spoken out about TV programs before but hasn’t bought an ad in the industry’s trade bible, Variety, in more than a year and a half.
The groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and the Transgender Law Center, intend to meet in January with ABC, a network they’ve cited in the past for its strides in portraying lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters. Representatives said they’ve had ongoing discussions with the network about “Work It,” though the re-shot pilot they watched didn’t address their concerns.
-- T.L. Stanley
Photo: Amaury Nolasco, left, and Ben Koldyke star in ABC's upcoming cross-dressing sitcom "Work It." Credit: Eric McCandless / ABC