Fall 2011 Review: Last Man Standing

19 Oct

Let’s compare bad new sitcoms.  If Whitney and 2 Broke Girls are trying to be something vaguely new, with women occupying the tradition space of men on sitcoms, Last Man Standing is trying to be almost as retro as possible.  I almost though I heard Tim Allen bellow “More Power” once or twice as the resemblance to his Home Improvement character is striking.  This character is more crotchety though and the show is supposed to be everything a “classic” sitcom from before this decade is, whether that’s good, or bad.  Of course, in most cases, like this one, it’s bad.

Tim Allen portrays Mike Baxter, who is a manly man in the most stereotypical ways.  He loves cars, shooting things, and the outdoors.  He hates anything that reeks of hippies, or gays, or anything crying.  He must tangle with his beliefs as he has to deal with a family full of women, and he tries to relate to them as best he can.  In the first episode, it’s revealed he had previously spent a lot of time travelling away from his family, but due to change of responsibilities at his job and his wife getting a promotion, he’s sticking around which means more time spent dealing with all the women in his life.  In his job, he’s assigned to work on the new web site for his outdoor company.  He’s got to learn what young and female people are into.

While watching, I quickly invented what I’m calling the Last Man Standing drinking game.  First, take a drink every time Tim Allen doesn’t recognize something from the last 10 years or so.  What’s Glee, he wonders at one point.  Who’s Lord Voldemort, he is confused.  What’s a vlog, he asks his wife.  Second, take a drink every time Tim Allen knocks something for being unmanly.  A man in a tanning salon?  Drink!  Soccer practice – a European sport!  Drink!  Calling kids all champs!  Drink!  Once or twice he gets very dangerously close to straight out knocking gays; I was uncomfortable watching him skirt the line but not quite saying it openly.  Third, take a drink every time Tim Allen resents the fact that the world doesn’t work a certain way any more.  People can’t change their own tires anymore.  Men play fantasy football instead of regular football.  Men used to build cities just to burn them down (yeah, that’s a real one).  These are novel observations, folks.  The only problem with this game is that you’d be hard pressed not to be hammered by halfway through the episode.

It’s painful to watch sometimes and Tim Allen skates close to not just saying obvious cliché lines (his wife wants him to drive the minivan instead of the truck – did he hear that right?)  but lines that border on making reasonable people uncomfortable with his extreme positions.  Last Man Standing tries to play Mike’s crotchety-ness as an in-joke within the show to make it seem a little more modern.  Even though he’s ridiculously old-fashioned, the other characters in the show try to point out that even to them, his family, he’s a little bit nuts, as they do a “here he goes again” type of comment when he starts on a rant.  It doesn’t really help though.  I don’t know if this type of humor was ever funny; whether when this stereotype was first created it seemed novel or hilarious but it certainly isn’t now.

Oh, and a quick shout out to the inclusion of young star in the making Kaitlyn Dever as Tim’s youngest kid.  Dever previously played Megan Mullaly’s daugther Escapade in a Party Down episode and Loretta in a recurring role on Justified.

Will I watch it again?  No.  I was done with this one from about five minutes.  It’s schtick is apparent from the start and the only appeal could be if you’re extremely nostalgic about stock sitcoms from eras of yore.

One Response to “Fall 2011 Review: Last Man Standing”

  1. Beardface October 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    I’m just amazed that despite my massive hatred for Home Improvement I still thought this was better than Whitney. That being said, still awful.

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