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the hate recap

The Hate Recap: Work It Wonders If It’s ‘Okay for Women to Flirt to Get What They Want’

WORK IT - "Shake Your Moneymaker" - When newly-employed Lee and Angel go out into the field as sales reps for the first time dressed as women, former salesman Lee is confident he'll be successful while Angel is concerned his background as a mechanic will not serve him well. But when Angel's flirtatious ways earn him sales while Lee constantly strikes out, Lee tries subtly to elicit advice from wife Connie on ways a woman can flirt with a man, on "Work It," TUESDAY, JANUARY 10 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/MICHAEL ANSELL)
SAM ANDERSON, BEN KOLDYKE

Ugh. Last week, 6.1 million people tuned in for the series premiere of Work It. The only logical conclusion for how that happened is ... at least 4 million of those people were kidding. Right? Not that it matters to ABC. Whether you’re watching or hate-watching, ABC still gets the ratings and the ad revenue. And while Work It was the lowest-rated show in its time slot, 6.1 million people is still a lot more than 3.6 million, the amount who watched a recent Parks and Recreation. My point: YOU DON’T NEED TO WATCH WORK IT AS A JOKE. I am doing that FOR YOU. The less you watch, the sooner this will all be over. Anyway, here’s what happened on frickin’ Work It last night.

Wait — before we get started, I need to let you know that there was a pretty great commercial for Celebrity Wife Swap that had a song parody of Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” with the lyrics changed to “I Wanna Swap.” Just felt like that’s something you needed to know was out there before we got into all this Work It stuff.

Okay, onto Work It.

Lee (he’s the big gigantic dude who dresses up like a chick because that’s the premise of this insane nonsense) is finished with his sales training at work and excited to really start getting out there and making pharmaceutical sales. “Why do I keep finding my women magazines in my bathroom?” asks Lee’s wife, a character who I assure you receives absolutely no further character development in this second episode. “Gross, dad, get some real porn,” replies Lee’s daughter, who I think is named Kat but I’m just going to call her “Sarcastic Teen Vanessa” because I feel like it.

By the way, we’re not gonna see Lee’s family for another 22 minutes of this episode because make no mistake, this is a workplace comedy about guys dressing up like girls. Just in case you didn’t see the first episode, the premise of the show is masterfully reestablished when Lee and his buddy Angel put on bras and proclaim, “It’s a recession. We’re just doing what we gotta do.”

That’s actual dialogue. I heard it come out of my TV. You can check if you don’t believe me. (But believe me.)

Another piece of actual dialogue, “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips,” which Angel says to Lee as they transition into using their “girl voices” in the elevator ride up to their office. In my almost 33 years on the planet, I have never actually heard a person, male or female, say “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” It’s something that’s ONLY said on television. It's also something that never needs to be said on television again. Work It has perfected the “moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips” line. No one will ever do it better. Don’t even try.

Lee and Angel’s tough but fair, possibly lesbian, definitely African-American boss Vanessa asks if they’re ready to get out there and go sell some quality pharmaceuticals. Angel replies, “I was born ready … and female!” What’s funny about this — Angel is totally NOT ready! He’s also totally NOT female!!! LOLOLOL!!! You see, even though it’s an extremely tough job market, so tough, in fact, that Lee and Angel have had to DRESS UP LIKE WOMEN TO GET JOBS AS PHARMACEUTICAL SALES REPS, Angel has been hired for this job despite a complete lack of sales experience. I guess this plot hole can be overlooked considering the fact that the person who hired Angel doesn’t seem to notice that he’s a BIG DUMB DUDE IN A DRESS. Not to worry, because Lee is a sales whiz. He’s confident and ready to go, even though he too is a A SLIGHTLY LESS DUMB DUDE IN A DRESS.

Hey, do I need to get into the fact that Angel ends up being really good at selling stuff while Lee has a totally hard time? That’s just understood, right? Good. This leads to a heated discussion at the local bar. Lee’s shocked and upset with Angel for using his “feminine charm” as a way to make sales. It’s at this point they actually ask the question, OUT LOUD, “Is it okay for women to flirt to get what they want?”

WHOA. Take it easy, Work It! I’m just looking for some light Tuesday night entertainment! I didn’t know I was going to have to think about important gender issues. Bring it down a notch, girls!

Before things get too heavy, Dr. Deutch — the doctor Angel sold a boatload of asthma meds to — calls Angel on his cell phone. Does he want to discuss pharmaceuticals? NOPE! Dr. Deutch asks out Angel out ON A DATE! At this point, Angel could’ve given any of the following reasonable excuses:

A. Thank you so much, but I’m married.
B. That’s very sweet, but I have a boyfriend.
C.  I actually just got out of a relationship so it’s not a good time for me.
D. I'm just not interested.
E. I’M A BIG DUMB DUDE IN A DRESS. [Ed. Note: If Dr. Deutch had responded to this with "Nobody's Perfect," we would consider respecting this show.]

Instead, Angel agrees to go on a date with Dr. Deutch because HA HA HA we are watching Work It!

Meanwhile, Lee is furious about the unfair way Angel is getting ahead in the workplace. He complains to his wife (who I think is named Beth, but I’m just going to call her “Sarcastic Wife Vanessa”), “The only reason that woman did well today is because she came on to the doctor like some kind of hoochie mama!” Lee’s wife explains, “Babe, we’re allowed to do that. It’s tough out there, sometimes we need to let the girls out and turn up the air conditioning. Need to leave work early? Red bra. Want a raise? Red bra.” In case you don’t understand, she’s talking about boobs.

This gives Lee an idea. Adopting a classic “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude, Lee goes back to visit Dr. Sorenson and proceeds to get sexxxxxxxxxy in a RED BRA! When that fails to seduce him into buying the super-sexy asthma medication, Lee bends over and shows off his RED THONG. Dr. Sorenson is not interested. He’s a man of integrity and will not be swayed by the tawdry actions of a BIG DUMB DUDE IN A DRESS. Not that Dr. Sorenson notices that Lee is a man. No. That never happens on this show. Ever. EVER.

Back at the office, Vanessa is delighted with Angel’s success but expecting better things from Lee, particularly after receiving a call from a more than annoyed Dr. Sorenson. The girls at the office (I don’t know their names, I’m just calling them British Bitchy Vanessa and American Crazy Vanessa) attempt to comfort Lee. They explain to him the best way to make some sales and find success as a pharmaceutical rep: just be yourself. Or at least as much of yourself as you can be when you’re a BIG DUMB DUDE IN A DRESS. Lee goes back to see Dr. Sorenson ready to bring his A-game as a sales whiz.

“Wow, you have balls,” proclaims Dr. Sorenson. “I do,” responds Lee as he barges through the door launching into his new sales pitch, which is ASTONISHING. Essentially, Lee’s pitch to Dr. Sorenson is that as an extremely ugly woman, Lee will NEVER be out on a date and therefore has all the time in the world to devote time to all his asthma medication needs. “I’ll be home tongue kissing my dog,” Lee explains, further solidifying that the best customer service always comes from disgusting, lonely women. Needless to say, Dr. Sorenson is SOLD! Then Gloria Steinem comes out and attacks a cougar with her bare hands. (This did not happen, but it should have.)

While Lee was playing out a story line that is enough to offend anyone who, like me, was raised by a single mother, Angel was busy on his date with Dr. Deutch. Right as Angel's about to eat whipped cream off of another man’s finger (EWW!), Lee shows up OUT OF DRAG as Angel’s angry boyfriend to put a stop to things! “I acted like a jerk before,” says Lee. “I was just jealous because you were more successful than I was.” Guys, this conversation may sound like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, but it’s actually TOTALLY ABOUT LEE AND ANGEL’S FRIENDSHIP! It’s working on two levels!! Holy friggin’ WGA Awards!

Lee leaves Dr. Sorenson with this thought: He shouldn’t be prescribing asthma medication just because “she’s a hot piece of ass, but because it’s a good product.” Dr. Sorenson sheepishly leaves, while Lee and Angel finish the expensive meal.

Holy shit, I just watched Work It again.

Photo: Michael Ansell/ABC