Three months after controversially canceling popular Friday night sitcom Last Man Standing, which was known for its strong Christian and conservative themes, ABC is once again taking heat for the decision.
During an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles on Sunday, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey sent mixed messages on the subject, calling the Tim Allen-led comedy a “high quality show” before defending the network’s choice to not pick it up for a seventh season despite strong ratings. She also reiterated that Allen’s political persuasion did not play a role in the cancellation.
“Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it,” Dungey told the Daily Mail. “We have actors on our shows who have all sorts of political views. Tim Allen is a valuable part of the Disney family and has been for a very long time.”
Amidst the public outcry in May, Dungey and the network blamed a scheduling conflict for the ouster. After all, Last Man Standing was the third most watched scripted series on ABC behind Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family.
“A large part of these jobs are managing failure, and we have made the tough calls and canceled shows that we would otherwise love to stay on the air,” Dungey said at the time. “Last Man Standing was a challenging one for me because it was a steady performer in the ratings, but once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Fridays, that was where we landed.”
But as Faithwire reported, fans and television critics alike were not buying the excuse. A Change.org petition threatening a boycott over the cancellation quickly amassed more than 400,000 signatures, as pundits questioned whether Allen’s friendship with President Donald Trump and the show’s focus on conservative values were to blame.
In an article for the Daily Wire, John Nolte speculated ABC may have been uncomfortable with the show’s success given that the main character, played by Allen, is “a political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values.”
“No one better understands the power of popular culture than those who work in it,” Nolte wrote. “They know that if even one is allowed to get through, a Path to 9/11, a Last Man Standing, a Duck Dynasty, a Passion of the Christ, a 13 Hours, a Fox News, that it must be crushed, toxified, or memory-holed out of the fear that those brainwashed by popular culture might discover another side to the story. And then there is the intolerable risk that a success might breed more of them.”
For his part, Allen admitted in a tweet to being “stunned” and “blindsided” by ABC’s decision.
Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years. #lastmanstanding
— Tim Allen (@ofctimallen) May 16, 2017
Earlier this summer, there were rumors the show, which is produced by 20th Century Fox, could find a new home on CMT but, so far, no further details have been announced.
(H/T: Daily Mail)