ABC has cancelled its Tim Allen-starring sitcom Last Man Standing after six seasons, the network confirmed Wednesday.
ABC and production partner 20th Century Fox TV had reportedly usually negotiated over licensing fees for the comedy series before each season; this time, according to Deadline, there was no negotiation, and the network simply pulled the plug on the show.
The sitcom starred Allen as Mike Baxter, a marketing director for a sporting goods store who happened to be politically conservative, and his relationship with his wife Vanessa and his three teenage daughters. The show was one of the few (if not the only) broadcast network sitcom to appeal to conservative, blue-collar America, a true oddity since Allen has noted in interviews that the program was written by liberal writers.
A sixth-season episode found Baxter blasting politically correct “microaggressions” and drawing up a speech for his daughter’s graduation: “To quote future Nobel Prize winner Lee Greenwood, ‘I’m proud to be an American.’ Not just because I have the right to speak my mind or carry an awesome gun, but because it’s the land of opportunity. Some whiny babies might not think so, but in America, if you work hard, anyone can be successful.”
Allen himself is also conservative, and has in the past expressed support for President Donald Trump. In March, the actor told Jimmy Kimmel he had attended Trump’s inauguration and that conservatives in Hollywood need to be “real careful” when discussing their political beliefs.
The show’s cancellation appeared to come as a surprise to fans, as its ratings had reportedly been solid, as Daily Wire’s John Nolte noted. Last Man Standing averaged 6.4 million viewers in its final season and a 1.2 rating amongst adults 18-49, strong numbers for a Friday night comedy. But Deadline also notes that Last Man Standing was down just 5 percent this season, a stellar result when compared with other shows were generally down by as much as 20-30 percent. The show was also reportedly performing extraordinarily well in syndication.
Even more surprising, the cancellation comes after ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at a London media summit in December that broadcast networks were not paying enough attention to the television viewers in the country who helped elect Donald Trump president.
“With our dramas, we have a lot of shows that feature very well-to-do, well-educated people, who are driving very nice cars and living in extremely nice places,” Dungey said in December, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“There is definitely still room for that, and we absolutely want to continue to tell those stories because wish-fulfillment is a critical part of what we do as entertainers,” she continued. “But in recent history we haven’t paid enough attention to some of the true realities of what life is like for everyday Americans in our dramas.”
Last Man Standing fans took to Twitter Wednesday and Thursday to urge another network, perhaps Netflix or CMT, to pick it up, while some accused the ABC of axing the show for political reasons.
@ABCNetwork cancels "Last Man Standing" even thought it had above average ratings. Can't tell me the media isn't one-sided.
— Shadowtruex (@ShadowTruex) May 11, 2017
@ABCNetwork cancelled Last Man Standing for politics. You just lost a viewer for all of your shows. No ABC in my home.
— Mark (@MarkDucker109) May 11, 2017
@LastManABC can't believe they have cancelled this show. One of the funniest family shows in TV.
— SlapdaddyDingdong©🖤 (@cjnotoj) May 11, 2017
— Cara Whitley (@caraannwhit) May 11, 2017
The show’s first six seasons are already offered to Netflix subscribers.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum