By James Hirsen, Special for USDR
In the world of television entertainment, Tim Allen’s show, “Last Man Standing,” is a comedic oasis, especially for viewers who have longed to see more conservative friendly themes appear within the much-loved sitcom category. Now in its fourth season, the series is proving to be a winner for ABC.
Allen is a major star of both the big and small screen, which is impressive in these times considering that he is also one of those rare commodities in Hollywood, a conservative. Reportedly, the comedic actor assisted in fundraising for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. In what is largely a left-leaning community, Allen stands apart from most of his Left Coast colleagues. He keeps a rather low profile while at the same time consistently demonstrates an old-school work ethic.
Interestingly, Allen isn’t just a conservative in real life, he plays one on TV. His television role is that of Mike Baxter, a rough-around-the-edges character with a big heart. Mike is a marketing executive at a sporting goods store chain called “Outdoor Man.” He is a married father of three daughters, a passionate advocate for traditional American values, and an individual who regularly exercises his right of free expression, even straying frequently into the realm of political free speech.
Laughter is prompted easily as Mike interacts with some of the liberal-leaning characters on the show. As part of his duties at the company, he maintains a video blog in which he opines on global warming, overgrown government, anti-business policies, cultural hypersensitivities, and other revered leftist memes.
Conservatism shows its sitcom hand in the sketches as well as in the family interaction. Mike’s youngest daughter Eve shares her dad’s interests, which happen to include the military and firearms. She is often seen on the show wearing a Junior ROTC uniform.
When “Last Man Standing” debuted, Washington Post critic Lisa de Moreas noted, “TV critics loathed it – but 13 million viewers liked it. That’s TV’s biggest 8 p.m. comedy debut in more than 7 years.”
Since its debut, the series has attracted a sizable audience and by all ratings standards is considered to be a huge success. ABC television just sewed up eight straight weeks as the #1 watched network on Friday nights, with “Last Man Standing” and “20/20” topping the list.
Notwithstanding the sitcom’s triumphs, TV critics in the mainstream media seem to love hating the show. Perhaps because of the worldview and politics of some of the script content, members of the critic community appear to have been overly brutal in their assessments, as seen in the following statements:
-GQ characterized the debut as an “utterly dismal pilot episode, which crammed Islamophobia, homophobia, and the phrase “Obamacare” into 22 minutes, completing some sort of cosmic Red State Hat Trick.”
-The Los Angeles Times remarked that “Last Man Standing” was “a case of people who can make situation comedies with their eyes closed making one with their eyes closed.”
-Newsday claimed that the show “reeks of flop sweat. ABC obviously reasoned the world was ready for a ‘Home Improvement’ revival. ABC is wrong.”
– A Washington Post reviewer wrote, “It’s not surprising that Allen and ABC think this unga-unga shtick still has market potential, but I once again refer you to the eerie silence from ‘Last Man Standing’s’ studio audience. It speaks volumes.”
Back in November of 2012 Allen’s character took on a group of controversial issues in a single joke. In the episode, Mike explains to his daughters, “Let me put this in perspective with the inheritance tax. Now, one day I am going to die and I will split things up and give it to you guys, right? The Democrats will tax that inheritance and probably use that money to throw gay weddings for illegal aliens… if the Democrats win, the only thing you will inherit is a $16 trillion debt.”
In a show that aired in October of 2014, Mike and his daughter discuss what the media refer to as “the crisis in the Ukraine.” When Allen’s character says, “The Russians aren’t in bed. They’re doing jello shots in the Ukraine and you know who we have to blame for that?” He and his daughter Eve reply in unison, “Obama.”
In a November episode of the same season, the show referenced the signature policy of the current administration. Here is a sampling of the back and forth:
“I’m already paying more to meet the new Obamacare requirements,” Mike’s boss says.
“And I thought if you liked your present health care plan, you could keep it,” Mike snappily replies.
The boss then indicates he may make his employees part-timers to avoid the health insurance premiums.
“If I cut them loose, they can get their own plan on the private exchange,” Mike’s boss says.
“I don’t think so,” Mike counters. “Anybody who can figure out that exchange is too smart to be working here.”
Despite numerous liberal messages imbedded in television fare, Allen has shared in interviews some revelations about the struggles with ABC over the content of his show, including material that touched on the subjects of race, the Clintons, and descriptions of Pres. Obama.
Not so surprisingly, in a 2012 interview Allen told then-“Tonight Show” host Jay Leno that the executives at ABC had censored his program in part because his sitcom character had been scripted to call the president a communist. “The network has made “politically correct … the mode for me,” Allen shared. He reportedly fought to keep the line in the script but couldn’t convince the brass at ABC to leave it in place.
Thankfully, to the delight and satisfaction of fans of Allen’s show, right-minded and otherwise, the conservative Allen is still standing.