Last Man Standing won't go the route of Roseanne when it returns this fall, intentionally avoiding any and all talk of Donald Trump -- and whether its conservative protagonist, played by Tim Allen, is a Trump supporter.
“I think the guy is a centrist,” Allen, who also serves as an executive producer, told reporters Thursday at the summer Television Critics Association press tour. Earlier in the day, Gary Newman, co-Chairman and co-CEO of Fox Television Group, indicated that producers behind Last Man Standing chose “not to address whether he’s a Trump supporter," leaving the door open for that to change: "Of course, that could change over the course of the season."
Last Man Standing, revived by Fox one year after ABC canceled the series, centers on Mike Baxter (Allen), a conservative sporting goods entrepreneur whose traditional values often clash with his close friends and family. Though the character won't be actively engaging in Trump-centric conversations on the show, Roseanne revolved around the eponymous matriarch's fervent Trump support. (Mike Baxter dressed up as Trump in a Halloween episode that aired in 2016.)
“This guy’s a practical guy. He owns a big business. If it’s helping his business, he’s probably pro-Trump. He probably doesn’t defend him," Allen said of his character's political perspective. "I don’t know that it’s going to be that, I think he’s going to be more of a centrist. Whatever’s good for his business and good for the state of Colorado or any policies that he does he’s going to go with."
Added showrunner Kevin Abbott, "I don’t think we’re going to specifically comment on Trump. Mike Baxter is a conservative Republican. He holds those ideals, but the character himself, I don’t think we’re going to address [Trump] one way or the other.”
Abbott was asked whether the upcoming seventh season will follow in the footsteps of Roseanne in tackling topical issues, and if there was some worry that they would abandon a portion of their audience by intentionally avoiding Trump talk.
"I don’t think so. I look at the Roseanne audience and I think first off, ‘Geez, if we got that kind of promo on ABC, then we would’ve had the same audience.' The only similarities that we have with the Roseanne show is that we’re a family sitcom and that the central character has a conservative view," he said. "The Roseanne reboot handled a lot of topical issues; they were [doing] the issue-of-the-week kind of thing. We don’t really do issues of the week. We consider ourselves a family show with a traditional character at the center of it, which is only unusual in today’s environment.”
Allen also spoke about the perception that his Last Man Standing alter ego is representative of his own conservative viewpoints.
“I’m not the character I play," Allen emphasized, imploring those who want to know what he thinks about the state of the world to go to his comedy shows. "You’ll be a little startled with the comedian, with who I am.”
He was also diplomatic about ABC's decision to ax the steady ratings performer after six seasons in 2017, a relative 180 from prior comments. Soon after the show was canceled, Allen implied on a podcast that he believed the decision may have been fueled by his character's non-liberal politics, saying, "There’s nothing more dangerous to me, especially in this climate, than a funny, likable conservative."
"If it was a political motivation to move that show, they certainly wouldn’t have to admit it or show that side of themselves," Allen said Thursday. "I don’t believe that it was, I believe it was a financial decision on ABC’s part. I think it was too early [to cancel the show]. We’re here because of it.”
Back in May, Allen revealed to ET that Last Man Standing picks things up in real time, about a year or so after the events of the finale. A new actress will be introduced this season to play Mike's daughter, Mandy Baxter, replacing Molly Ephraim. Kaitlyn Dever, who plays Eve Baxter, will continue to recur.
"There's some big surprises and good stuff coming," Allen promised, before crediting the show's success squarely with the fans. "All of you ... man, I'm telling you ... we would not be standing here [without the fans]. It's gonna be a better show because of all you people that did this and I just hope we ... I want to deliver. We will deliver for you."
Last Man Standing premieres Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
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