Is ABC’s cross-dressing sitcom “Work It” the worst TV show ever made? Several critics are suggesting so. Me, I tend to doubt it. “Cop Rock” was pretty ridiculous. “Supertrain” was a notably bad idea. “Homeboys in Outer Space” didn’t do the world any favors. I defy any modern human to hunt down and sit through an episode of “She’s the Sheriff.” And despite the fact that 542 people actually subscribe to the “Out of This World” channel on YouTube, it was a brain-meltingly awful show. ... Which isn’t to say that “Work It” doesn’t give each and every one of them a run for their money.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the show was an elaborate prank designed to test the patience of TV viewers. The painfully contrived plot centers on Lee (Ben Koldyke from “How I Met Your Mother”) and Angel (Amaury Nolasco from “Prison Break”), two best bros who can’t seem to get jobs in this tough economy. So naturally, they dress up in drag and immediately secure employment in pharmaceutical sales (because everybody knows that women have it so much easier in the job market). Even “Bosom Buddies” dumped its cross-dressing premise in the second season. Unfortunately, Koldyke and Nolasco are no Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, and squeezing into panty hose is their only chance of landing a cheap laugh.
Like a lot of current sitcoms (“Whitney,” “2 Broke Girls,” “Are You There, Chelsea?”), “Work It” can’t seem to go more than 60 seconds without inventing a hilarious new name for genitalia. That more or less covers the range of jokes in the show. I suppose it’s intended to be funny that no one figures out Lee and Angel are actually men. They’re hands down the worst drag performers in history—worse than Tyler Perry, even. The fact that no one realizes these hideous, hulking creatures are men makes you think everyone in this strange, alternate universe is suffering from brain damage. Several transvestite advocates have suggested the show is prejudiced against actual cross-dressers—but the show is such an embarrassment to humanity as a whole, it’s pointless to single out one small group.
The show gives Lee a wife and kid, but they’re so generic, it’s impossible to remember a single line of dialogue or character trait. The office in which our (wo)men work is staffed only by the broadest of stereotypes (the ditzy chick, the mean chick, the hot chick). And the situations in which they find themselves (uh-oh, a horny old doc has invited Angel out to dinner!) were creaky when “Three’s Company” was milking them back in 1978.
Honestly, the contempt “Work It” has for its audience is appalling. In the minds of the show’s writers, here’s how women talk—Girl No. 1: “Kelly, can I ask you a question?” Girl No. 2: “34C!” And here’s how men talk—Guy No. 1: “Is it OK for women to flirt to get what they want?” Guy, No. 2: “Hell yeah. ... I just wish I had what they want!” These are the jokes, folks. “Work It” is proof positive you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.