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JAN
4
3 YEARS

'Work It' on ABC: What the Critics are Saying

The cross-dressing series made its debut on Jan. 3 to a slew of scathing reviews and unimpressive ratings.

Work It
Eric McCandless/ABC

ABC’s cross-dressing comedy, Work It, premiered on Tuesday to disappointing ratings, earning a score of 2.0 among adults 18-49. While the 8:00 program managed to outperform Body of Proof and Parenthood in the key demo, it couldn’t escape the scathing reviews swirling around the web.

The show, created by Ted Cohen and Andrew Reich, stars Amaury Nolasco and Benjamin Koldyke as two out-of-work men who begin dressing as women to land jobs as pharmaceutical reps. 

The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman slammed the network for giving platform to a sitcom that is “so obviously wrong” and “makes Bosom Buddies seem like Arrested Development in comparison.”

“When the bile bubbles up contemplating what heinous element of a series to slaughter first, you’ve got a problem,” Goodman writes. “Or, rather, ABC has a problem. It’s not just that Work It is poorly written, broadly acted and apparently produced without any shame, it’s that any number of people had a chance to say no to the groin-thwack against standards that is this series, but they refused.”

“Some like it hot, but more like it funny. By either or any standard, ABC's atrocious Work It fails miserably,” says TV Guide’s Matt Roush. “The cornball premise that assumes the sight of men wobbling on high heels and fretting over their panty lines is a scream — it certainly agitates the laugh track — has struck a politically correct nerve with organizations like GLAAD, which feels the show is insulting to transgender people. GLAAD should learn when to pick its battles. Work It is insulting to anyone of any gender with half a brain and a lick of taste. Ignoring it is the best revenge.”

Taking a slightly kinder approach, Cinemablend’s Kelly West brought her appreciation of ridiculous humor to her review.

“The most obvious way to describe ABC’s new comedy Work It is that it is what it is. Or in the vague, polite words of Randy Jackson, 'You did your thing, dawg!,' which doesn’t really say that the 'thing' is good. Just that they did it,” she says. “If you think something like that is funny, tune in. You might even like it. And if it sounds completely stupid, dated and/or offensive, well, you may be on the right track there as well. In truth, with a show like this, it may come down to the viewer’s preference.”

 “There’s no denying this was one lousy sitcom. Work It uses the same premise as the ’80s’ Bosom Buddies — two guys, due to lack of money, impersonate women to get by — but fails to allow its stars the freedom to transcend that dull premise. Koldyke and Nolasco were trapped reciting lines like ‘Thanks for the tampon’ and ‘I’m not your ordinary girl,’” writes Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker. “The kindest interpretation to give Work It is that its premise is also operating in the real world that surrounds it: That in our poor economy, even good actors have to take what work they can get, each hoping that one day, he or she will transcend this vehicle to become a Tom Hanks, or a Peter Scolari, or a Holland Taylor, or a (much-missed, late) Wendie Jo Sperber. I say this without sarcasm: Good luck to the Work It cast.”

Zap2it’s Rick Porter dubs the series, “an early front-runner for the worst show of 2012.”

“We're pretty confident this show will end up near the top of lots of "worst" lists next December,” he writes. “Comedies don't have to be complete mirrors of reality to work, but there should be either A) enough of a tether to the real world to feel at least plausible, or failing that, B) at least be pretty funny. Work It fails on both counts in several ways.”

“The series — which is to say, the pilot — is just not very good; the jokes creak and wheeze, and there is nothing in the performances to distract from the material,” notes the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd. “If you want to call it insulting to men who dress as women, you have to also call it insulting to men who don't, and to women. (Sample lines: 'Have I gotten drunk and slept with a random guy yet?' 'I'm Puerto Rican — I'd be great at selling drugs.') Yet it is not actually ill-willed, just ill-witted.”

The punches continue with HitFix’s Daniel Fienberg, who grades the series with an F, while viewers bestow a kinder D+.

“Like the mancession itself, I'd expect Work It to be a statistical blip, living on only in TV critic punchlines and as somewhat awkward conversation starters with the show's not-untalented cast,” Fienberg writes. “You know that Work It is heading in the 'To become a better man, he had to become a woman' thematic direction. And what does Lee learn in the pilot? Women love purses and being asked about their feelings! Work It is all about men stealing back their jobs and placating the women around them, who are too blind, superficial or easily coddled to be worthy adversaries. See? Men won't have to become sex slaves after all!”