Well, this has got to be a bit of vindication for comedian Tim Allen and the rest of the cast and crew of the sitcom Last Man Standing: After being unceremoniously canceled by ABC after six seasons in 2017, the show had a triumphant return on FOX with its seventh season premiere pulling in over eight million viewers — which is about two million more than tuned into the season six premiere — and easily won the Friday night ratings.
In the show, Tim plays Mike Baxter, a happily married father of three daughters who finds himself the odd man out as he tries to maintain his manliness in a home surrounded by women. Says FOX, “Mike tries to escape all the female energy at home in the warm, manly embrace of his job at the Outdoor Man store, a sporting goods emporium where he is marketing director. He also revels in his Outdoor Man vlog, which he uses as a pulpit for his opinions — and which often have nothing to do with the store’s merchandise. When he’s supposed to be selling mountain bikes or kayaks, he somehow ends up spouting off about the environment, health care, international politics or any other topic occupying his mind.”
Tim described the series to Entertainment Weekly this way: “There are a few shows I always liked. I loved Mary Tyler Moore. I loved The Bob Newhart Show. I loved All in the Family. I currently like Mom. What we do — this format of live multi-camera sitcoms — is very organic to the idea of a TV network. We aim to give the best we can. We have top-of-their-game writers who write a very emotional piece and lay comedy on top of it. I’ve been a comedian doing stand-up for 34 years, the purpose is to just make you laugh at the theater of human condition. My character is like Archie Bunker with a college education. He’s a little bit gruff, but he’s also raised three girls. It’s a funny sitcom that’s constantly surprising. It’s not a political show. I encourage the people who say I’m some closeted Hollywood conservative to forget about Tim Allen and what his politics are.”
As to why the show had been canceled by ABC, he mused to Vanity Fair, “There is nothing more dangerous, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative character. He’s mitigated by a family of women who had a difference of opinions, but the guy was a likable guy.”
“A large part of these jobs are managing failure,” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey told journalists at ABC’s network upfronts back in May, “and we have made the tough calls and canceled shows that we would otherwise love to stay on the air. That’s the job. I canceled Last Man Standing for the same business and scheduling reasons that I canceled Dr. Ken, The Real O’Neals, The Catch, and American Crime. Last Man Standing was a challenging one for me, because it was a steady performer in the ratings, but once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Fridays, that was where we landed.”
Additional factors are that ABC didn’t actually own the show — which is more and more becoming the network model these days — and with the show wrapping up its sixth season, it would have been time for what would have been expensive renegotiations with the cast.
But bottom line is that ABC’s loss is most definitely FOX’s gain, and it seems that Last Man Standing remains exactly that: the last man standing.