“Work It” Cancelled After Two Shows

ABC’s entertainment chief must have experienced the world’s most rapid education over the weekend.

Although just last week he publicly declared that he didn’t “get” complaints made by transgender people about the network’s new sitcom “Work It”, it seems that media activists, critics, and a disgruntled general public somehow made him see the light- The ridiculously offensive sitcom has been cancelled after just two shows.

So what’s the takeaway here?

Well, for starters, it’s 2012. Corporate media execs – and everyone else – can “not get” trans issues at their own risk and peril.

Another takeaway is that even though the media landscape can feel overwhelming at times, ultimately our voices do matter in the fight for against hateful media representation.

The last takeaway could be the most meta of them all: how the media covers media, matters. That is to say, in this wild Internet era of ours, we’re all responsible for what we choose to draw attention to, and how we choose to do so. When the New York Times reprinted a story from the AP that used inaccurate and offensive language that failed to call transgender people, people, they were contributing to the very problem they were attempting to report on. Once again folks, from the GLAAD media reference guide, “transgender” should be used as an adjective, not as a noun.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/reneeinmich/ Renee

    I talked a bit about the metacriticism of Work It with Alyssa Rosenberg over on her blog, and I think it really is one of the most interesting and important things to takeaway from this terrible show. For me, it was hard to ignore the language used to talk about the two leads; in their rush to destroy them, virtually none of the major critics could resist the temptation to judge their presentability. And what they ended up doing was echoing much of the hurtful rhetoric used to police trans women (and less often, cis women).

    My favorite (and by favorite, I mean the one that made me want to throw my computer at the wall) came from Time Entertainment: “…serving up sight gags you can see coming as if they were 6′-3″ and wearing high heels.” But there was plenty more to choose from.

    That kind of turn-of-phrase seems clever, but doesn’t actually contribute much to legitimate criticism: You think the characters looked ridiculous? Well so did ABC…that was the point…Paul Lee even described it as “silly”. Meanwhile every woman, trans or cis, who happens to be kinda tall gets to reflect on why the mere image of them is funny. Work It is over, but this kind of thinking persists.

  • http://feministing.com/members/alp227/ Andrew

    Good thing the show (I haven’t seen it ever but the very premise sounds terrible) shows that more and more Americans are sick of homophobia. And 15 years ago, ABC faced controversy over the Ellen DeGeneres sitcom episode where Ellen came out of the closet. The tides have turned so much over those years that a similar coming-out episode wouldn’t be as controversial.

  • http://feministing.com/members/warriorqueen/ Katherine

    Forgive me for sounding obvious, but the whole issue of being a woman in the workplace being advantageous was also off the mark. There are almost no advantages to being a woman in the workplace (except possibly for gender normative positions), especially in the pharmaceutical area.