The networks have presented their new fall schedules, causing shock and awe among fans of one Friday night comedy: Last Man Standing. The Tim Allen-led series was cancelled by ABC without warning although, after six seasons, you might think the writing was on the wall. Except for a few minor details.
Last Man Standing was one of the network’s top comedies, second only to Modern Family in viewership. Yes, those numbers had dropped by five percent over the last year, especially among the all-important 18-49 year old demographic. However, Modern Family had dropped a whopping thirteen percent during the same time span, a trend followed by The Goldbergs, Black-ish, and Fresh Off the Boat – all of which were renewed.
ABC’s President claimed the network was simply ending their Friday night comedy block. Apparently, changing nights would be unthinkable for the show. (Sure, that never happens.) Or perhaps, there was no room left with the remaining renewed comedies. Except the network is premiering a new sitcom this fall.
Also Tim Allen, a staunch conservative, stepped in a steaming pile recently by commenting that Hollywood put pressure on Republican stars to keep quiet. He jokingly compared it to fascist Germany and all hell broke loose. One week later, he was cancelled.
In response, fans of Standing are crying foul, bringing forth a petition with, at last count, over 250,000 signatures in support of the show.
So why the furor over a sitcom? At a time when the country is so divided politically, Standing is an anomaly. It revolves around a father who is an unapologetically opinionated Republican in a house full of outspoken women. This could be a modernized Archie Bunker except that in this case, our hero isn’t always wrong.
So not only does Standing NOT lean toward the liberal ideal, it also shows a group of strong characters that are able to co-exist despite some very strong political differences. Who knew that was possible?
Consequently, Tim Allen has become a voice for an under-represented population on television. Furthermore, his character offers clear, carefully-reasoned arguments for his beliefs. This is in stark contrast to the Trump supporters on the news who love to quote unfounded campaign rhetoric but can’t offer a factually-supported defense of their candidate.
If people listened to Standing’s commentary, they might find the two political sides are closer than they think. That is, if politicians can get their egos and personal agendas out of the way.
Fortunately, ABC doesn’t own Standing, and the parent company of the show, 21st Century Fox, is now shopping it around to other networks. In the past, such a move saved Scrubs and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from cancellation with mixed results.
Hopefully, this will work for Standing’s cast, crew, and loyal viewers like myself (more left-wing than right, by the way). Because differing viewpoints allows for better and deeper discussion.
And most viewers need their political lessons served in small, easy bites. So the next time they protest, they know what they’re fighting for.