Last Man Standing Review: Tim Allen Is Archie Bunker of the 21st Century


Last Man Standing is a television series airing on Friday nights on ABC in the United States. The series follows Mike Baxter, played by Tim Allen, director of marketing at an outdoor sporting goods store in Denver, Colorado, whose world is dominated by women, especially at home with his wife and three daughters, one of whom is a single mother. The series second season premiere “Voting” aired Friday night.

The issues explored in the episode are the issues being discussed all across America. The role of government, health insurance, jobs, the war on drugs and voter apathy among young adults are just some of the issues touched on in the episode.

The eldest daughter, Kristin, played by Amanda Fuller, is a single mother, who had to drop out of college, lives at home with her parents and is struggling to make ends meet and raise a child, while working as a waitress without health insurance. Her son’s father, Ryan, has just lost his job and therefore their son, Boyd, has lost his health insurance. An argument ensues with Mike, her father over health care and the role of government.

Kristin: “When Ryan lost his job, Boyd lost his health insurance. You see, Mandy, this is what Obama is trying to fix.”

Mike: If there is something that goes wrong with Boyd, we’ll take care of it. Families take care of each other. I don’t need the government sticking their fat nose in it.

Kristen: “What about all the other 5 year olds who don’t have generous grandfathers.”

Mandy is a young adult and social butterfly, more interested in fashion and reality TV than politics. She has recently graduated high school, has started college and this is the first year she is eligible to vote. She is the penultimate low information young voter, disenchanted by and uninterested in the issues of the day. Mandy can’t look up from her smartphone longest enough to participate in the family discussion except to say, “What’s a Dukakis?”

The youngest daughter, Eve, played by Kaitlyn Dever, is a young coming of age teenager who is struggling between her love of sports and cars driven by her affection and closeness with her father, and her budding interest in boys. She is smart, articulate and precocious, constantly finding herself watching and commenting on how her elder sisters traverse life.  

The mother, Vanessa, played by Nancy Travis, is a geologist. She is pragmatic, strong, modern day woman — accomplished professionally and at home. Vanessa takes the neutral position of keeping her politics to herself in the interest of familial harmony, but she is anything but apolitical. “The secret ballot is the cornerstone of our democracy, and having a few secrets from your father is the cornerstone of our marriage” Vanessa tells her daughters.

Adding to the dynamic, Vanessa is a graduate of Ohio State University, and Mike is a graduate of the University of Michigan, which is always good for some laughs. The episode also sprinkles in some fantasy football fun another big cultural item of the day. Mike is a die-hard Denver Bronco fan, but Eve adds an Oakland Raider to her “Three Faces of Eve” fantasy football team, a major faux pas if you are a Bronco fan.

In a moment reminiscent of All in the Family’s Archie Bunker, Mike, deadpans, “Obama has to look out for working people because they’re nowhere to be found.”

Last Man Standing airs Friday night at 8:00PM EST.

Here is the classic All in the Family’s Archie Bunker on Democrats.