This morning, ABC canceled Tim Allen’s show “Last Man Standing.” ABC says it is because of the high cost of producing the show. However, many say ABC pulled the plug because there was little support for Allen himself, who has been an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, and often criticized President Obama on his show.
The truth may not ever be known, but the facts do not lie. Last Man Standing is a popular show that makes ABC money. A lot of money. However, it has never been treated with the same prestige of some of ABC’s other comedies, including Modern Family and Blackish.
Those two shows enjoy great ratings, and ABC promotes them as the face of their network. It is something Tim Allen and Last Man standing never enjoyed, despite its ratings and Allen’s own high popularity. It does not take a genius to see why: Last Man Standing is seen as a traditional “blue-collar” family show, while “Modern Family” and “Blackish” are seen as more cutting-edge and progressive.
At a time when network shows are losing more and more of the market share, why would ABC pull the plug on a sure winner? John Nolte at Daily Wire makes a strong case that the demise of the show has one likely cause: Tim Allen’s politics.
Even though it had been dumped on Friday nights, the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing enjoyed ratings that Deadline describes as “very respectable for any night and especially Friday[.]” Every week, the half-hour comedy, one of the very few aimed to appeal to America’s heartland, won its time-slot in the all-important demo, including 6.4 million overall same-day viewers. Deadline further adds that “[w]hile most returning shows were down year-to-year 20-30%, LMS was virtually flat, off just by 5% in total viewers and adults 18-49[.]”
Last Man Standing was ABC’s Friday anchor, meaning a show that could not only be counted on to win the night but one that kept viewers tuned in to whatever shows came after. Anchors are also crucially important when it comes to launching new shows.
The real money in the sitcom business comes from syndication rights, selling the reruns on a per episode basis to other networks. Last Man Standing is not only a syndication smash, a virtual cash cow, per Deadline it is the “rare off-network ratings success story these days.”
When a show does this well in syndication, every episode becomes a bar of gold, a likely source of rolling revenue for years and years to come. Even aging sitcoms that lose their audience are sometimes renewed for an extra season because each of those episodes is worth a fortune in syndication.
So why was this popular and profitable sitcom abruptly canceled?
After six seasons, the ABC broadcast network is contractually required to cover the cost of producing the show. Until now, Last Man Standing had been produced and paid for by 20th Century Fox TV before being licensed for broadcast to ABC.
To no one’s surprise (explained below), and although 20th Century Fox had agreed to reduce its fees, without even bothering to negotiate something that would allow them to hold onto this hit show, ABC abruptly canceled it, using the fig leaf of cost, singling out Tim Allen’s high salary.
The real reason ABC canceled “Last Man Standing” was almost certainly due to politics. Allen’s character is, as described by Deadline, a “political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values, the blue-collar comedy appeals to viewers in the Heartland, a constituency that helped elect Donald Trump as president and has been energized post-election as evidenced by the ratings success of new USA drama Shooter.”
Through his character, the politically conservative Allen has poked fun at Hillary Clinton, political correctness, and the Left at large. Worse still, he has created a popular, sympathetic and likable television personality who holds the beliefs and values our entertainment and media elites want to tell us can only belong to Nazis.
Moreover, the ABC television network is owned by Disney, a rabidly left-wing company run by Bob Iger, who, for years, has been a huge supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Nolte also points out that ABC just negotiated a complex deal to renew Modern Family for two more seasons. That included big raises for the show’s stars. Of course, that show is a darling of the left. Featuring a gay couple (who married on the show), Modern Family has been widely praised and recognized for being progressively “gay friendly.”
The bottom line Nolte makes is clear: despite its success, Last Man Standing never received the support from ABC it deserved, because it represents an America they do not want to admit exists.