It looks like Tim Allen’s hit show, Last Man Standing, is finally going to be returning to television. The show had been axed by ABC last year, despite garnering consistently strong viewership, leaving many, including Tim Allen himself, wondering why. A lack of transparency leads to conspiracy theories, and ABC was less than forthcoming with the reasons for cancelling the hit show. It would say only that it had decided to end Friday comedies, therefore it had to cancel the show. Given that the viewership for Last Man Standing was stronger than other comedies that were renewed for other nights, the explanation simply did not make sense (shows change nights all the time), leaving many to speculate that the show was really killed because of its strong conservative themes. The network refused to directly address these claims.
The revival of the show on Fox can be attributed to a few things. Certainly the Roseanne revival (ironically enough on ABC) produced very strong numbers. However, the fact that conservative fans of the show objected very loudly last May when the show was initially cancelled certainly helped the cause. Petitions, calls for boycotts, and a huge social media push proved that not only are there many fans of the show, the fans are very committed to it. It would seem that at least some networks are finally getting the message that conservative shows will boost their ratings, and are starting to show a willingness to produce more of them.
One of the things that makes Last Man Standing such a fan favorite is its ability to make fun of the current political climate. Conservatives on the show certainly make fun of the liberals, but they also make fun of themselves. Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, recently noted that people love to pretend they are offended, and this makes comedy much more difficult. However, in 2014, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels explained that his show [makes fun of conservatives](Lorne Michaels,) more often because they actually have a sense of humor and can laugh it off. He explained that jokes aimed at liberals are too often taken personally, resulting in “offense” as Groening noted, and making it very hard to make fun of liberals. Last Man Standing is able to navigate jokes on both sides more easily, since the show does not tend to attract many liberal viewers.
However, liberals could learn a lot by watching the show. Last Man Standing models for us how we can disagree politically, yet still love and respect each other, and maintain positive relationships. In such a time as we live now, we desperately need this example. Too many friendships and even family relationships are ending simply because of political differences. Last Man Standing helps both sides visualize how it is possible to avoid this – by putting family, love, and Godly values before any ideologies, and by treating each other first and foremost with humanity and dignity. We have been called, after all, to love everyone, even our enemies, as we love ourselves. It’s great news that a great representation of what that looks like is coming back to network television.