Monday, December 26, 2011

When I just can't go there with you.

So, it seems that I'm not the only person walking around with a chip on my shoulder.

Depending on what you read and where you spend your time online, you may have heard about Work It, a new sitcom set to kick off on ABC. Both GLAAD and HRC have come out against this show where two men decide to dress as women in order to land jobs. The feeling is that it's offensive to the transgender community.

I've not seen the show, but have spent a good deal of time reading whatever I can find about it and here's what I've gathered.

The show is horrible. It goes for easy laughs by hauling out every kind of stereotype it can get its hands on.

But, even when reading a review of the show written by an activist whose work I have admired for some time, I'm not able to get fired up about the men dressing as women aspect because, basically, it seems to be the least offensive thing the show has going for it.

See, if I thought that what the writers behind Work It had actually taken the time to craft some kind of mean-spirited sitcom intended to target transgendered individuals, then I'd be on board. I'd be posting and hollering and signing on to any letter I could get my hands on. But that's not the case here. The writers who came up with Work It seem to have simply created a really bad, really unimaginative show. For that reason I can't really get more worked up about this show than I am about, say, Two Broke Girls.

I'm irritated that the bar is being set so low. I'm offended that, for whatever reason, the former big three networks seem to have decided that they're going to let cable handle developing shows that involve creativity and imagination.

It also has me wondering what the line is. The Birdcage was considered funny. There have been no protests over classic movie channel screenings of Some Like It Hot. La Cage Aux Folles has not earned ire and consternation. I've not gotten a petition about Bugs Bunny dressing up as Carmen Miranda. Men in drag (1) has always been a part of comedy.

And all this is to say nothing about the lines so many have worked very hard to draw between drag, people dressing in clothing typically identified with the gender that is not their own, and being transgendered. One is costume, the other is identity.

So what is it about this show that has touched a nerve?

1. And in the case of several episodes of I Love Lucy, women in drag.