ABC is in hot water for canceling the conservative sitcom, “Last Man Standing.” A petition on change.org already has over 100,000 signatures from fans demanding the return of the show, yet the network seems incapable of coming up with any reasonable excuse for why it nixed the successful sitcom.
“I canceled ‘Last Man Standing’ for the same business and scheduling reasons I canceled ‘The Real O’Neals,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘The Catch,’ ‘American Crime,'” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey told Deadline on Tuesday about her reasoning for axing Tim Allen’s show.
The issues of logic start here. All the shows listed by Dungey suffered from poor ratings and had only been on the air for one or two seasons. “Last Man Standing” had been airing for six seasons, meaning syndication deals were now a factor — and it was the third highest-rated show on the network, not far behind the renewed “Modern Family” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Dungey continued the generic excuses when she said ABC decided to stop airing comedies on Friday night, the night “Last Man Standing” was shown. “It was a challenging [call] because it was a steady performer, but when we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Friday that’s where it landed.”
This is not an excuse audiences should buy, as highly rated shows with loyal followings make changes in airing days all the time.
“The truth of the matter is that there are many factors that go into the decision-making process: ratings, critical acclaim. Of course we look at ownership structure. I don’t think we are alone,” Dungey said. “I wouldn’t say that was the deciding factor.”
Then what was the deciding factor? Dungey’s comments to Deadline seem little more than a lame attempt to save face. The problem is that none of her explanations make as much sense as the show’s cancellation due to politics, something LifeZette covered here.
The producer and star of “Last Man Standing,” Tim Allen, also took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he was “blindsided” by the decision.
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Why would someone with a six-year relationship with a studio (who is also one of its most profitable creators) be blindsided by a cancellation if the decision really came down to the lame excuses ABC has put forth? Allen was blindsided because he’s now joined the ranks of creative conservatives who have faced the wrath of a liberal Hollywood establishment, something he claimed was all too real in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in March.
James Woods, an Academy Award-nominated actor, also took to social media to voice his support for the petition to save Allen’s series and to say he believed politics was a factor in the cancellation. He should know. Woods has said he has not been able to find the same amount of work in Hollywood since he became more outspoken about his conservative views.
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To make matters worse, Dungey seems to be suffering from short-term memory.
Not long after Donald Trump’s presidential election victory, Dungey said she wanted ABC content to aim more at a middle-American conservative crowd.
“We have a lot of shows that feature very well-to-do, well-educated people.”
“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,” she told the Content London media summit last year. “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. 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.”
So “Last Man Standing” fit the exact description of what she wanted more of on the network. Then what changed? It may have something to do with Disney CEO Bob Iger — Disney owns ABC — who has a history of burying work he disapproves of politically.
Allen has also been more outspoken lately about his politics and his willingness to discuss political bias in Hollywood.
We hear time and time again from creative conservatives that they’re facing blacklistings, bias, and unfair treatment from their Hollywood colleagues. Now we’re witnessing that unfair treatment right in front of our eyes — and it’s not something we should stand for, not by a long shot. All artists, no matter their politics, should have the right to creative expression, especially when their work is as popular as Allen’s.