Work It Works At Nothing; Hardly Offensive, Never Amusing
By Alex Cranz
When GLAAD started freaking out about Work It I was just a tad confused. Maybe it’s my cislady (born a female and identifies as female) privilege showing but two dudes in drag to get jobs isn’t the same thing as a transwoman. Like, at all.
Then Rick Santorum, a politician so scummy he has anal leakage named after him, won the Iowa caucus. If a dude like that can take the lead over milquetoast Mitt and 1994′s favorite politician, Newt, then people aren’t as smart as I give them credit. There really is a whole sector of the population who would vote for a guy that doesn’t believe in global warming.
So maybe some people would watch Work It and think that those guys are transwomen or that the show is mocking transwomen. I guess. It isn’t true though. The show has nothing to do with transwomen. Those are women who happened to be born male. These are dudes dressing as women. Not the same and GLAAD kind of implying it is seems really stupid.
But back to Work It and it’s premise. On the surface two jerky dudes being out of work and resorting to drag to make a living could work in a non-offensive way. See one of the screenplays of the last thirty years, Tootsie. That film was about an absolute jerk who is unhirable because he is an absolute jerk. So he dons drag and becomes a soap opera sensation. Over the course of the film he falls in love, realizes he’s a misogynist, becomes a better person and is finally honest with himself and those around him. His experience dressed as a woman is transformative. Tootsie highlights the inanity of sexism while reforming a former sexist. It’s a great film.
That isn’t Work It which has the two dudes learn nothing in their twenty minutes of drag besides how to buy cute purses to appease a tired cliché of a wife.
So maybe Work It is more like 1980′s Bosom Buddies about two guys who don drag so they can get cheap rent at a woman’s hotel.
The execution is similar. The men rarely learn anything from their adventures disguised as women and there’s some really bad sexist jokes about how “wacky” dudes in drag are. Yet Bosom Buddies? Only accidentally pitched as a buddy comedy in drag. The creators were pitching a sophisticated buddy comedy and likened it to Some Like It Hot. The studio executives interpreted that as “dudes in drag” and greenlit “dudes in drag buddy comedy.” Over the two seasons of the show the drag aspect was significantly scaled back and the show started to be quirky, experimental and kind of fun.
Work It isn’t quirky. It isn’t experimental. It isn’t fun. It is bad tv. The actors deliver lines like they’re in a high school production that the theater teacher wrote themselves. Dialogue is stilted and delivered badly. The laugh track blares after each sentence in the hope that it can coax you into a laugh. The show tries, I guess? To be edgy. It tries to subvert gender stereotypes by having women in power and men as subordinates. But sadly it is a show written by two dudes and there is male privilege written all over it. It’s like a bunch of asshole dudes from Tumblr sat down to write a satire of feminism to show us women how dumb we are. Only they can’t write and they can’t even afford the rights to music so they use generic covers of popular songs.
Also the many women in the show? There’s the teenage daughter with a daddy crush that’s tempered by her wacky teenage surliness. The surly wife who gets mad because her husband is an asshole–which WHY DID YOU MARRY HIM. DUDE IS AN ASSHOLE. The co-workers who are catty, like to drink at brightly lit clubs with sequined walls and talk about boys, and the hot boss who is powerful so she’s probably a lesbian.
Kill me now. Alternatively pay me for watching this shit so you don’t have to.
Thankfully the show bombed in the ratings and probably won’t last until the end of the month.
If you really miss it or you’re just out for some legitimately great subversive films about men in drag then go watch Tootise or Some Like It Hot and forget this travesty ever aired.