Well, ABC actually went and did it. Last night they aired the premiere of their eagerly unanticipated new sitcom Work It, a bizarrely dated show about two unemployed guys who dress like women to get jobs as pharmaceutical sales reps. And boy was it unpleasant.
What is more offensive about it, we wonder? That it's a cynical attempt by a bunch of Hollywood screenwriters to thematically cash in on the current unemployment crisis, or its insane level of sexism? Hm, actually, it's probably the sexism — not that the flippant treatment of unemployment isn't bad, it's just that the sexism is so bad.
One of the opening jokes in the show is the wife — a nagging bore who just wants to go on boring husband-wife dates, not sit at the bar with the fellas — saying to the dopey husband, "And it's not OK to keep comparing a prostate exam to the pinball scene in The Accused." Ahaha! Oh, gosh. What a perfect context for a rape joke: this awful, brightly lit sitcom. It's downhill from there. As others have done, one could go line-by-line with the whole half hour, gaping at how truly dreadful the show's depiction of women is, but we don't have all day. So let's just do a few highlights.
When at the job interview, dressed in drag, the lead guy is told by the tough lady boss that it's impressive that she knows what a clinical trial is, as most of the girls who interview think that a "clinical trial" has something to do with Lindsay Lohan. See, "girls" (as they are repeatedly referred to) are frivolous creatures who don't know anything about technical terms. Tee hee!
Of the tough lady boss it is said: "No she's not married. I think she's a lesbian." Which, if she is, all well and good. But she's not. It's just that she's assertive and unmarried, so she must hate men.
There is a scene in which it's suggested that no woman in the history of the world has ever eaten a sandwich, because diets. Timely joke, that.
There's a fat slovenly "comic relief" character, a guy who talks about how women are taking over the work force and will soon make all men sex slaves, but not the good kind of sex, the "kissing and cuddling and [air quotes] listening" sex. What is this, 1993? Where is this joke coming from? Not this century, that is for certain.
There are myriad other instances like this in the short twenty-three minutes of the pilot, which we'll post below so you too may discover each one. It's truly mind-boggling that ABC ever thought this fit to air, if not for the rampant sexist unpleasantness, at least for the simple fact that it's so wildly unfunny, and oddly dated. Work It never once works it. Hell, "work it" itself is kind of a creaky phrase at this point, isn't it? The show is not unlike taking a time machine back to the mid-'90s only to discover that you've actually traveled back to an alternate history in which "feminazi" has made it into the OED and the show Roseanne never existed. That's a terrible a world to live in! So why is Work It strutting around in it?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.