The network says cancelling Last Man Standing wasn’t political. Time will tell.
After ABC yanked conservative comedian Tim Allen’s sitcom off the air, he is hoping to still claim the “last man standing” title on another TV network.
When it announced its fall lineup last week, ABC canceled Allen’s show, Last Man Standing, while retaining others with significantly fewer viewers, including 20/20, Fresh Off the Boat, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The sitcom features Allen as a gun-toting, Obama-bashing, outdoors-loving family man—one of the only Republican TV characters who was not a villain. While ABC shows lost viewers across the board last year, Last Man Standing held onto the most, dropping only 2.2 percent.
The show’s loyal viewers say ABC must have targeted Last Man Standing because of its conservative bent. About 380,000 fans signed an online petition at Change.org asking ABC to renew the show while at the same time accusing the network of viewpoint discrimination.
“Last Man Standing is one of the only shows on broadcast television, and the only sitcom, that is not constantly shoving liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers. And sadly, that is likely the real reason the show has been cancelled,” the petition stated.
ABC defended the show’s cancellation as a business decision, saying it no longer planned to feature comedies on Friday nights. It also pointed out it shuttered plenty of liberal shows, too, such as Scandal, which has only one season left. Other business reasons exist to cancel the show (which critics have noted but ABC hasn’t admitted): After six seasons, the show was more expensive to produce than a newer comedy; multi-camera sitcoms are a dying format; and the show was produced by 20th Century Fox Television instead of in-house by Disney-owned ABC.
Allen tweeted he was “stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years.” His own values and politics inspired those of his character on the show, and he said earlier this year on Jimmy Kimmel Live that his views make him something of an outcast in Hollywood.
“You get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody else believes. This is like ’30s Germany,” he said.
Some viewers have suggested Fox should pick up the show since its TV division already produces it. The Parents Television Council released a statement Monday urging Fox to replace The Mick (which has portrayed the sexual escapades of children and teens) with Last Man Standing. If Fox bought the comedy and all of its viewers followed, it could land among the network’s top five shows.
Last Man Standing’s producers say they are shopping for a new network to call home, and since Fox is known for being more open to conservative views (mainly on its news channel), the show might be a good fit there. If Fox doesn’t bite, it might lend a little more weight to ABC’s argument that cutting the show wasn’t personal, just business.
— by Lynde Langdon