Friday, June 02, 2017

Cancellation Controversy Made Me Watch 'Last Man Standing'

Last Man Standing is a sitcom starring Tim Allen as Mike Baxter, a senior executive for the sporting goods chain Outdoor Man, which he had built into a successful company through his marketing genius.  He loves his family, and he’s dedicated to his work.  He’s fond of hunting, fishing, the outdoors, cars, and sports.  He supports the military, gun rights, and traditional American values.  He’s a die-hard fan of the Denver Broncos and Ronald Reagan.  He’s a Republican.  He regularly goes to church.  He hates political correctness and the Left’s policies and worldview.  Mike’s your archetypal American conservative, and through his popular vlog, he rants about modern society and politics while running promotions for Outdoor Man.

I recently binged its six seasons, and I generally like it.  It doesn’t always hit.  It falls a bit flat sometimes.  It’s no Friends.  But it’s genuinely funny, thoughtful, and touching.
Between his hilarious book Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man, being the voice of Buzz Lightyear, and being a fun, grounded, sensible person in real life, Tim Allen has already become one of my favorite celebrities.  With Last Man Standing, there’s simply one more reason to like him, as his character Mike Baxter is a delightful fictional representation of his real-life persona.

Aside from Mike, the series also follows his wife Vanessa, a geologist-turned-teacher who enjoys wine, socializing, and making puns; eldest daughter Kristen, who became a young working mom after being knocked up in her senior high school; middle daughter Mandy, a “dumb blonde”-type character (though she’s not blonde) who loves fashion; and youngest – and favorite – daughter Eve, an overachieving tomboy who is basically a girl version of Mike.  Other major characters are Ed Alzate, Mike’s bestfriend and owner of Outdoor Man; Kyle, a young Outdoor Man employee who looks up to Mike and Ed, and whose dim-wittedness is off-set by his good heart; Ryan, the man who got Kristen pregnant and an archetypal liberal; and Boyd, Ryan and Kristen’s son.
All of the characters are likable and interesting, and I really enjoyed their personalities and individual quirks.  Next to Mike, who carries the show with his lovable snarky personality, I like the Baxter sisters the most, for the three of them have undergone the most growth as characters (though I bit lost interest with Kristen when she was recast in season 2; it took me a while to get used to the new actress and re-like her again).  I even got to like the liberal Ryan, who started off as an annoying presence because he embodies everything wrong with the Left but eventually showed maturity and endearing “geek cred” as the series progressed.  And Kyle has been an adorable, dumb puppy right from the start.

Last Man Standing is mostly well-written, as it regularly delivers good episode arcs and intelligent humor.  It often doesn’t pull punches, but it’s not mean-spirited or vulgar either.  Having a conservative protagonist, the comedy is mostly about pointing out the absurdity and flaws of the Left and political correctness.  It also makes clever non-political jokes, particularly about human nature and pop culture, as well as meta-jokes referencing Tim Allen’s previous hit sitcom, Home Improvement.  But, yeah, it’s at its funniest and most thought-provoking when it makes fun of the Left.  Still, it doesn’t shun the liberal position.  Rather, it gives it voice through characters like Ryan and Kristen.
And this is what I appreciate most about the show’s approach:  It doesn’t necessarily attack the Left.  The show often presents the Left’s argument without caricaturing it.  And then, by contrasting it with the conservative view, the liberal view begins to look downright silly.  It doesn’t spew conservative propaganda.  It doesn’t misrepresent the Left.  It doesn’t need to.  It simply promotes common sense and having a reasonable, balanced discussion – something you won’t see from Left-leaning shows – and through this, the ludicrousness of liberalism is exposed.

But the best thing about Last Man Standing is its overall message.  That is, despite the different opinions, despite the heated arguments, at the end of the day, everyone can still get along.  No matter how much the characters of this show clash due to their beliefs and personalities, the respect and love for each other is still there.  They are still a family.
Last Man Standing was one of ABC’s top-rated shows despite being put in a bad timeslot.  Yet it was surprisingly cancelled.  According to the Right, it was due to political reasons, as the show allowed the conservative point of view to be presented as well as the fact that Tim Allen, like his character, is a conservative and has been outspoken of his conservative views.  As for ABC’s official reason, they mumble about “contracts” and “budget” issues, but they offer no clear, sensible explanations – making the political angle more likely.

Because of this cancellation controversy, I became curious of Last Man Standing.  Prior it, I wasn’t even aware that this show existed.  I just had to watch this show that got under liberals’ skins.

Its cancellation is pretty disappointing.  The entertainment industry doesn’t make it a secret that its allegiance is to the Left.  It constantly bombards audiences with social justice and liberal propaganda.  Thus, a show with a conservative protagonist is quite refreshing to have.  And, again, it’s not even too biased with its conservative message.  It’s very reasonable with its approach compared to liberal-leaning shows.  Heck, I read that the show’s writers are even – ironically – liberals!
There are reports that the producers are looking for a new network or a streaming service to pick up season 7.  Hopefully, it happens.  Last Man Standing is worthwhile TV.

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