Fall’s TV lineup was just announced during the annual upfront presentation to advertisers and it looks like Black folks will have to wait yet another season to see new shows that truly represent us.
Not one new pilot (and several were pitched, including projects from Gabrielle Union, Regina King, and Tisha Campbell Martin) was greenlit by either NBC or ABC. Sure, it’s nice to have shows like How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, and Empire renewed, but with very few Black shows in development on the horizon, our choices seem more limited than ever.
In walks Roseanne Barr and Tim Allen.
A collective groan swept over Twitter yesterday when it was announced that Allen’s conservative comedy, Last Man Standing was brought back from the dead by (surprise, surprise) Fox after ABC cancelled it last year. It felt like a slap in the face considering that Fox just decided to can Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which thankfully was scooped up by NBC.
With Roseanne and her pro-Trump themes performing exceptionally well over at ABC as the number one program in primetime among adults 18-49, it only made sense that yet another conservative comedy be brought back to take advantage of the boon.
“You know, obviously I think everyone took a good hard look at the performance of Roseanne,” Dana Walden, Chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group said to TheWrap during a recent conference call. “It did so well, and it certainly did remind us that we have a huge iconic comedy star in our Fox family in Tim Allen.”
That’s only partially true. Yes, Allen is a big and expensive star, but what Walden avoided mentioning is that Last Man Standing speaks to a certain demographic who has been overlooked until Roseanne’s resurrection resulted in a ratings smash with 18.2 million viewers tuning in to the debut and 18.6 million who actually returned the following week to watch the second episode trying to get their next fix of the show’s right leaning politics.
If you don’t already know, Last Man Standing stars Tim Allen as a senior executive for an outdoor sporting goods store. The character is a father of three girls and has heavy-handed conservative political stance that was a driving force on the show. It was cancelled in May 2017 despite raking in 8.5 million viewers on Friday nights with very little promotion.
Allen sparked speculation that the show was cancelled because of his character’s conservatism rather than its expensive production price tag. He even went as far as to compare the demise to Hollywood’s exile of people in the 1930’s who didn’t share its liberal views.
Fans of the show, who one can assume are mostly conservatives, rallied behind the show, with over 400,000 people signing an online petition to boycott ABC until the show was revived. Low and behold, it’s Fox to the rescue as they grabbed the rights to bring Last Man Standing back.
The announcement was met with jubilation from conservatives such as Tomi Lauren, Mark Dice and others who took to Twitter to celebrate. Meanwhile, there were also a slew of people who are less than happy that yet another conservative sitcom is invading our networks.
How disgusting is this. Fox cancels three good comedies but has the money to revive Tim Allen’s canceled garbage. Thanks, Roseanne.https://t.co/xU32dORQE9
— Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg) May 11, 2018
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a funny show with LGBT, POC and Latinx rep, is getting canceled to make room for Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, another show about a white, Trump supporting family.
This sucks. #Brooklyn99
— Denizcan James (@MrFilmkritik) May 10, 2018
A difference of opinion
We may not agree with the politics behind this decision and feel some kind of way that Fox has opted to resurrect Last Man Standing, while in essence, killing Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but it is extremely dangerous to be so outspoken against a show’s existence simply because of its political views. We would certainly cry foul if the right spoke out against the mere existence of Black-ish because it was too Black and too liberal.
I get it. The political perspectives of both Roseanne and Last Man Standing aren’t our collective cup of tea, but I truly believe there is an audience for both. And, the business of television is to service advertising, which is directly tied to having a large amount of people watch your program.
Last Man Standing didn’t get cancelled because it drew poor ratings. If it did, then it t proves the show was revived only because of its politics, which is actually more dangerous than we know. More likely is that the show was revived because it will do big business for Fox, especially in this particular political climate.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Roseanne delivered its highest ratings in states that carried Donald Trump through the election (Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Ohio and Missouri) and will likely be the same scenario when Last Man Standing makes its return. Whether you believe that the show was canned because of its politics or because it was too expensive, neither can mask the fact that the show was a draw for an audience that felt ignored…maybe even for the last eight or so years.
As much as we may hate it, shows like Roseanne and Last Man Standing need to exist in order for there to be balance. Whether you want to agree with this assessment or not, part of the reason why Trump is president is because of the so-called silent majority that felt neglected during the Obama Administration. When you push so hard against a point of view in an attempt to mute their voices, they only grow stronger and begin to paint themselves as victims, crying their fake tears of woe is me sadness. What we absolutely don’t want to do is give these individuals a reason to rally.
There’s also this…
I am very progressive and pretty liberal and I love this show. It’s a TV show people not real life, Tim Allen’s character is conservative but other characters are not, it’s called balance. Find some, we all need more in our lives. #LastManStanding
— Laura Maldonado (@msellemaldonado) May 11, 2018
With Trump in office, we really don’t want is for there to be a similar outcry against the shows that we’ve supported over the years. The fact that neither NBC nor ABC piloted any shows that speak to the Black experience may be the very beginning of a soft backlash. And, lets not forget how ABC abruptly pulled a politically themed epode of Black-ish, which fueled creative differences between ABC top brass and the show’s creator, Kenya Barris. It’s also rumored that Barris is ready to jump ship to much deeper waters of Netflix.
Speaking out against Roseanne and Last Man Standing will only lead to even more blowback against Black-ish, Grown-ish, Atlanta, Insecure, and then where does it stop? Don’t say it can’t happen, because it definitely can.
As long as we continue to support the casts and shows that we love, we should take no issue with whatever Roseanne and Last Man Standing have going on as they at least are giving their conservative, right audience something to do at night.
Andreas Hale is a freelance writer who has contributed to The Root, Billboard, MTV, OZY and Yahoo. You can find him on Twitter @AndreasHale