Tim Allen may enjoy “personally pissing people off” but his “Last Man Standing” character doesn’t have the same objective. Therefore, when the show returns for it seventh season, now on Fox, it will not “comment specifically on Trump,” executive producer Kevin Abbott revealed.
“Mike Baxter is a conservative, a Republican, he holds those ideals,” Abbott said at the Television Critics Assn. press tour panel for the show Thursday. “The central character has a more conservative [view, but] we don’t really do issues of the week. We consider ourselves a family show with a traditional character at the center of it.”
Added Allen: “I’m not the character I play. You want to know what I really believe, come to see me at the Mirage in Vegas.”
According to Allen, he believes that his character Mike Baxter’s politics align with “whatever is good for his business.” However, he did admit that they “really had planned, like so many other people, that Mrs. Clinton would have been president,”and they had a “whole bank” of material at the ready for it.
“The night that Trump pulled it off…those of us in the comedy business went, ‘Shoot.’ Because now we didn’t have all of that pantsuit stuff,” he said.
Abbott also pointed out that because “Last Man Standing” is not an issue show, he doesn’t think the show has much in common with ABC’s one-season “Roseanne” reboot. However, Allen addressed the Alphabet’s controversial star more directly, standing up for his long-time comedian colleague by saying that the racist tweet that got her show cancelled was not indicative of “the Roseanne I know.”
He pointed out that she was the “most diverse and tolerant woman” he knew for a long time and considered that this is a particularly tough time to be a comedian because there are now “things you shouldn’t say.”
“Who makes up these rules?” He wondered aloud. “As a standup comic, it’s a dangerous position to be in because I like pushing buttons.”
“Last Man Standing” was canceled after its sixth season in May 2017, which Allen said he believed was a “financial decision” over a political one. But he also admitted that he thought the cancellation was “done very poorly” because no one had any warning.
Almost exactly a year later, Fox ordered a seventh season of the sitcom, but executive producers said they don’t plan to do anything differently because they are on a new network.
“The show doesn’t need to be fancy. It’s correct in its core,” said executive producer Matt Berry.
However, the late resurrection of the show meant that some of the cast had already booked other jobs and could not return for the Fox version. Molly Ephraim will be recast, and Abbott said they are still in the “late stages” of that process, while they will have Kaitlyn Dever for some of the time.
In order to fill any void left by not having the full Baxter family intact in every episode, as well as to incorporate new conflict for Allen’s character, the show is aging up Kristin’s son to the age of 12 for some “fun storylines about a young man on the cusp” of his teenage years and how Mike will relate, after having just raised three daughters. The show will also kill off Mike’s father Bud (Robert Forster) in order to allow mortality and grief to play throughout the season. And perhaps most notably, they are bringing in a new teenage player — a foreign exchange student from China.
“Vanessa, when she was in her teens, went on a foreign exchange and she’s been a big supporter of that,” Abbott said of Nancy Travis’ character. “She wants to bring in a child and support that program, so they [do].”
Bringing in a character from a “different political system” is designed, per Abbott, to provide additional discourse for Mike as the two cultures clash.
Berry pointed out that times are so fraught in reality right now that there is a lot of fracturing within families all across the country, which he thinks makes “Last Man Standing” even more “relevant” than ever.
“This is a show about a family that stays together no matter what,” he said. “You’re allowed to disagree in the family, but ultimately at the end of the day, it can’t separate us.”
Berry added that those work on the show operate the same way. “Whatever we all believe in individually gets put to the side for what we try to do,” he said.