ABC’s Work It Is Not Only Bigoted, It’s Inaccurate

In addition to being offensive, ABC's "Work It" misrepresents the demographics of the recent economic recession.

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Advocates for the rights and dignity of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered people are very upset about a new TV show called Work It, and it's understandable. The highly offensive basis for the sitcom, according to ABC, is two unemployed men who have "learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a 'man-cession' and their skills aren't in high demand." So what's an unemployed man to do? In ABC's offering, he dresses up in heels, a skirt, and make-up to get a job as a salesperson at a pharmaceutical company.

Ho, ho, ho.

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Even more insultingly, a company representative explains the firm's alleged preference for hiring women by saying, "We find the doctors prefer to 'nail' the drug reps more when they are girls."

The Human Right Campaign and other groups are rightly appalled at the inherent bigotry against transgendered people, and have taken out an ad in Variety in protest. But while they are correct, they are missing another flaw in ABC's show: it's simply not true that women are getting all the jobs.

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There is—or was—indeed a "mancession," wherein men lost more jobs than women. But in the sputtering recovery, it is men who are getting hired, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. The nonpartisan institution reported in October:

The sluggish recovery from the Great Recession has been better for men than for women. From the end of the recession in June 2009 through May 2011, men gained 768,000 jobs and lowered their unemployment rate by 1.1 percentage points to 9.5 percent. Women, by contrast, lost 218,000 jobs during the same period, and their unemployment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 8.5 percent.

These post-recession employment trends are a sharp turnabout from the gender patterns that prevailed during the recession itself, when men lost more than twice as many jobs as women. Men accounted for 5.4 million, or 71 percent, of the 7.5 million jobs that disappeared from the U.S. economy from December 2007 through June 2009.

ABC's contribution to Bad TV may whip up resentment among men who believe women are taking their jobs. It would only be divisive and offensive if it were true, but it's factually inaccurate. ABC is correct in noting that there aren't many good jobs out there. You'd think, then, that they'd be able to find better programming executives and writers.