November 4, 2012
Last night—Saturday night—I was bored, so I decided to watch an episode of Tim Allen’s new sitcom “Last Man Standing.”
Take that in for a second. Last night—Saturday night—I decided to watch an episode of Tim Allen’s new sitcom “Last Man Standing.” I didn’t mean that as a cry for help, but upon second reading I can see that it really might be one. Jesus. What is my life coming to?
Anyway, when I say “new” sitcom, I really mean that the show is currently starting its second season. When it premiered last fall, I remember reading multiple reviews that described it as essentially “Home Improvement: TWO”, with the differences being that Allen works at an outdoor gear store instead of starring in a tool show, and he has daughters instead of sons. That last part is key: the premise is that Allen constantly has to defend himself. Why’s that? Um, because it’s been 13 years and all of that man-of-the-house stuff is now much less cool. So I guess the joke is supposed to be something like: man character is still just as manly and superior as before, but now all these women are in the way! What’s a man character to do?
In the episode I watched, this is taken one step further because the issue at hand is, in fact, the current election (the one that’s happening on Tuesday—you know, you’ve heard of it). The plot is: Tim Allen (his character’s name is Mike Baxter, because, of course it is) is incredibly pro-Romney. One of his daughters, the smart one, is pro-Obama, and the other daughter, the dumb one, doesn’t really know what’s going on. And then there’s his wife—her deal is that, in order to keep peace in the house, she never reveals her stance on any issue and refuses to say who she’s voting for. Cute!
Over the course of the episode, Mike squabbles with his smart daughter (who has the audacity to put an Obama sign on the lawn), tries to convince his dumb daughter (who gets excited hearing that she can vote for unemployment – I’M CRINGING), and has a conversation with his wife in which he actually admits that he thinks things were better back when women couldn’t vote. The dialogue goes down something like this:
Tim: It was better when only landowners could vote! Because they’ve shown that they know what they’re doing!
Wife: Are you really saying that you think it was better when there was slavery and women had no rights?
Tim: No! Slavery was terrible.
Tim: Well, goodnight!
Yikes. Really, Tim Allen?
In the end, the dumb daughter decides to vote for Obama, and Tim agrees to drive her to the polling station: begrudgingly, he just wants to raise daughters who stand up for what they believe in. Aw, he’s not such a bad guy after all.
So yeah, it’s offensive in a light-handed, “not a big deal!” kind of way, and it’s pretty amazingly old fashioned. But it is in its second season on ABC, so it appears that there is still an audience for multi-camera, laugh track heavy, man-centered sitcoms. It also appears that perhaps that audience is me, given what happened here in this living room on a Saturday night at 10 PM. What can I say? I can’t think of anything, honestly. Does it help if you know I was eating vegan chicken nuggets at the time? No?
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