Four days after ABC programming chief Paul Lee said the ratings for the unveiling of his guys-dressed-as-chicks sitcom “Work It” were higher than critics had hoped but lower than was “perfect for a pickup,” and that he would see where the show “goes over the next few weeks” -- he yanked it from his schedule.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign broke into a happy dance.
“While many of ABC’s positive and groundbreaking portrayals of LGBT people have been critical and popular successes, the public had little interest in this outdated show,” GLAAD senior director Herndon Graddick gloated in an email sent to TV critics attending Winter TV Press Tour 2012.
In a full-page ad in Variety last month, the two organizations said that “by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.” They’d also published a joint opinion piece in Huffington Post, site savaging the show.
Lee addressed the press tour last Tuesday —days after the show’s lackluster premiere. Its next performance, that night, plunged 20 percent in the ratings.
Hours earlier, at the press tour, Lee told TV critics he thought there was room in primetime for “a very, very, very, very silly show”, and that he “didn’t really get it,” in re the hue and cry over the show.
And then he began planting in their brains the notion that “Work It” was “Tootsie.”
“I love ‘Tootsie’,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing. I still love ‘Tootsie.’ I don’t find it to be offensive. So in that particular case, I don’t get it. But that’s probably me.”
“Tootsie,” in case you missed it, is the hit 1982 Sydney Pollack flick that starred Dustin Hoffman as an unemployed, known-to-be-difficult actor who auditions for an open female role on a soap opera and lands the gig.
“Work It,” on the other hand, was about two unemployed guys who “learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a ‘man-cession’ and their skills aren’t in high demand,” as described by ABC. When one of the guys learns a pharmaceutical company is hiring only female sales reps, he goes to the interview dressed up like a chick and gets hired.
In 1998, the United States Library of Congress decided “Tootsie” was “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
“Work It,” on the other hand, is gone.
Repeats of ABC’s new Tim Allen sitcom, “Last Man Standing” have been booked in “Work It’s” Tuesday timeslot for the next few weeks.