ABC Chief Doesn’t ‘Get’ Anger Over Cross-Dressing Comedy ‘Work It’

ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee doesn't "get" why LGBT groups are calling for the cancelation of the network's cross-dressing comedy Work It:

Workit"In terms of the lesbian and gay community, we're incredibly proud of the work that ABC does," he told TheWrap. "That's not just 'Modern Family,' it's 'Grey's Anatomy,' it's 'Private Practice,' it's 'Dancing With the Stars.' But in that particular case… I didn't really get it. I love 'Tootsie.' … I still love 'Tootsie.' I don't find it to be offensive. So in that particular case I didn't get it."

Wrote GLAAD in mid-December:

During a period in which the transgender community now routinely finds itself in the cultural crosshairs, the timing couldn’t be worse for a show based on the notion that men dressed as women is inherently funny.  In fact, shows like this have the power to put the transgender community in an even more dangerous position.

GLAAD has seen the pilot and 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. Work It invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance, thereby also making it easier to mock people whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned at birth.  Said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson, “Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it.  It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.”


  1. Reader says

    This story has gone on way too long. It’s mildly offensive, GLAAD and HRC slapped them on the wrists, the show looks awful and will be canceled within a few episodes, end of story.

  2. MikeSJ says

    Can’t we just hate the show because it’s AWFUL?

    Men dressing as women has been used for comedic effect for centuries. And when it’s done right, it IS funny: Tootsie, Some Like it Hot, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, etc.

    GLAAD makes our entire community look humorless by so vigorously objecting to the concept that men in drag might actually be funny. Work It proves that men in drag aren’t always funny. That’s the reason to object to the show; because it’s a poorly-written piece of crap.

    GLAAD needs to get over it and just let the show die. It’s painfully awful and is getting horrible ratings. It’s going to go away soon. They’re just giving it more publicity by trying to turn it into a transgender rights issue.

  3. Joey Y says

    Watched it due to all this complaining, wasn’t offended any more than I was by Mrs. Doubtfire or Shakespeare in Love. GLAAD and the HRC can give it a rest. The show was so-so, not any better or worse than most pilots I’ve seen.

  4. says

    This show is not about transgender women. It is about men pretending to be women. These are two different groups. One is serious and real, the other is comedic and unreal. This show is lowbrow comedy, done even by Shakespeare.

  5. daneilw says

    Yes, the show is awful.

    However, at least the guy is saying he doesn’t understand.

    By saying he doesn’t understand, it shows that he is open to learning and understanding the plight of transgender people.

    Let’s educate him and others with the same misunderstanding of transgender people.

  6. Albert says

    The show will be cancelled soon enough. I just wish ABC would shelve that terrible “Bachelor”/”Bachelorette” franchise. It’s really about time they stop trivializing marriage with the antics and sexcapades:)

  7. J.P. says

    Do Drag Queens “reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’”? How come they don’t have an issue with RuPaul and other drag queens? They dress as woman for entertainment. How come that isn’t offensive?

  8. Gregv says

    I agree with ABC. GLAAD has taken on many important issue the years. If they fail to choose their battles and fail to give some things the benefit of the doubt, they risk becoming as eye-rollingly irrelevant as the American Family Association when they say something like a man who knows how to cook offends them.

    Not only is this show NOT about transgendred people, but it could also actually be something positive.
    If a potential trans-basher grows up laughing along with characters in drag who seem like someone he might have fun hanging out with, it’s less of a stretch to think that other variations of crossing gender lines (like trans issues) are, likewise, nothing to get upset or violent over. If a non-trans man in a dress is someone he could be friends with, then maybe an actual trans person wouldn’t be so scary, either.

    It would be a little bit like Jack Tripper was to gay characters 30 years ago. There were no realistic and fun gay characters on TV. The fact that Jack Tripper would unashamedly CLAIM to be gay, and that Mr. Furley still liked him, was far from the ideal gay role model but it was all we had. And it was a step forward that paved the way for ACTUAL gay characters to be a part of a fictional TV peer group.

    GLAAD should be suggesting this show would be a great venue to contrast the drag antics with the introduction of a sympathetic trans character, rather than just shooting down an opportunity.

  9. says

    @J.P.: I was thinking exactly the same thing. Drag queens are ridiculous charicatures of women and incredibly misogynistic. I know many women who are incredibly offended by them but they have the good sense to shrug it off. I have no idea what GLAAD is talking about. I suppose if gay men dress as women then it’s incredibly beneficial to the transgender community but if straight people do then it’s dangerous for them(?). They have no leg to stand on (like pretty much always) and by not picking its battles GLAAD is making itself a joke.

  10. Jack M says

    If they “got it” they wouldn’t have made the show in the first place. I don’t think it’s controversial, just an example of the idiots in Hollywood and the crap they get paid to think up. Nobody’s gonna watch this.

  11. ChrisQ says

    Tootsie anyone? Bosom Buddies? Whatev. Not worth getting the panties in a bunch over. So to speak. They should be much more concerned with the daily barrage of dehumanizing, horrible crap being thrown on our community by the GOP crowd who might someday have REAL power.

  12. says

    Said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson, “Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it. It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.”

    I think that was expressed VERY eloquently. Let’s think beyond our own little shallow lives and have a little respect for others.

  13. cranky1 says

    Add GLAAD to the long line of organizations taken over completely by the trans lobby. It is really embarassing to see them make fools over themselves and to waste their money on an issue that has nothing to do with people wanting to change their sex. Crossdressing has been around in literature and in real life (how about straight transvestites) for a long time, and it has nothing to do with the drama these professional victims like to create.

  14. simon says

    No one in their right mind (except GLAAD) will think these guys are transgenders when watching the show. An average viewer doesn’t even know what transgender means. They more likely think they are gay.

  15. says

    it’s not what you do that needs to be addressed, but how you are ABOUT IT.

    you’re not funny, you’re not witty, you’re not clever, you’re not insightful, “Work It”

    things some like it hot, mrs. doubtfire, victor/victoria, and tootsie all were. are remain.

  16. qj201 says

    First, Clueless, party of one

    Second, when did any biological male wearing women’s clothing automatically become a trans issue? The trans activists seem to be going after ANY depiction that is not about them or sensitive to them. Next thing trans activists will start protesting drag shows.

  17. wtf says

    Wow. 26 comments and only ONE person gets it? Yes, Edgar. It’s trans ‘blackface’. And I simply LOVE the comments “what about Tootsie” and “what about Bosom Buddies”? Um, you realize that those were THIRTY YEARS AGO, right? We also don’t have Archie Bunker talking about fags on network tv anymore. It’s called progress you fools. And trans people don’t need to be your f*cking punchline anymore. Want to laugh at a man in a dress? Go see a drag queen – and for those of you comparing this to RuPaul’s Drag Race, that’s a reality show where they are openly gay and often talk about what they’ve gone through to come out and deal with the types of oppression that most of you are reinforcing towards the Trans community. GET A DAMN CLUE.

  18. says

    Yes, think the show will fail as we all know the concept is dated and America has progessed. The idea someone has quit watchin ABC as a network is minimal. ABC has been including gay characters as in Brothers and Sisters, Modern Family and even though all those actors may not be gay I am proud to see at least our community is being represented. Gays in the last century on television just did not happen in a positive manner.

  19. jay_max says

    “WTF” obviously doesn’t get it. Just because a guy puts on a dress doesn’t mean it’s about transgendered folks. Actually, 99% of the time it isn’t. So…unbunch your panties/boxers/tightiewhities, have a beer, and relax.

    This reminds me of the Peter and the Wolf fable. The trans community is going to cry wolf so many times on non-issues, than when a real issue arises, they’ll be ignored.

  20. Adam says

    I watched the show and will continue to watch it, it’s funny enough and a distraction from work and life. I do see GLAD’s point and I get where they’re coming from but at the same time this show handles the issue in a PC way unlike other drag comedies of yore. It’s not great for the trnasgender community for people to laugh at men dressed like women, I get that, but at the same time the show is funny enough so I’m split. But will still watch.

  21. DB says

    The trannies are really getting out of line. The worst part of this is that GLAAD and ABC now seem to confusing gay issues and transgender issues. Gay people do not care about this, only transgender people do. It has nothing to do with gay people or sexual orientation issues.

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