They Ruined Last Man Standing

OK.  I’m about five years late with this complaint, but I guess that’s what happens when shows are preserved forever on Netflix and you can watch them whenever you want.

For the most part, I hate it when there are cast changes on a TV show.  If a group of actors/actresses wowed everyone in the first season then every effort should be made to keep the band together.

You don’t change your socks in the bottom of the ninth.  To change an actress is to change the character altogether.

In the first season, Last Man Standing was basically Tim Allen taking his winning Home Improvement formula and applying it to modern times.

On Home Improvement, Tim Taylor lusted after power tools, was kept in check by intelligent wife/psychology student Jill, and was a father to three wacky boys.  From time to time, he’d seek advice from his TV show co-star Al or his mysterious neighbor, Wilson.  During his Tool Time TV show, he’d regale the studio audience with a rant about some subject related to a problem he was experiencing with his family.

On Last Man Standing, the three boys are traded in for three girls.  Mike Baxter lusts after crossbows, shotguns and assorted pieces of hunting equipment.  He’s kept in check by intelligent wife/geologist Vanessa.  He seeks advice from his boss/confidant Ed.  In a modern twist, he regales the Outdoor Man website visitors with rants related to some problem he is experiencing with his family.

Symmetry.  Gotta love it.  Then they ruined it.

In the first season, Mike’s eldest daughter Kristin is played by Alexandra Krosney.  Her backstory is that she got pregnant during her senior year of high school, thus destroying all of her college hopes and dreams while leaving Mike with his only male ally in a house full of girls, his little grandson Boyd.

There was definitely a subtle lesson behind that character.  The message to young people who have kids way too young is, ok, you made a mistake.  But life isn’t over.  Kristin gets up everyday, works at a rancid diner, takes care of her son and occasionally takes a college class when she can fit it into her schedule.  Mom, Dad and younger sisters pitch in to help Kristin out.

Happy family.  Gotta love it.  You’re left with a hope that as long as Kristin keeps plugging away, she will eventually get her long awaited award.  She’ll get her education and she won’t have to work at a stank ass diner anymore.

Alas, in Season Two, Krosney is replaced by Amanda Fuller.  I don’t mean to knock Fuller.  She’s playing the character she was hired to play but, this version of Kristin stinks.

Jordan Masterson is brought in to play Boyd’s dad, Ryan, who in the first season had been played by Nick Jonas in a one time guest spot.

New Kristin and Ryan become liberal foils to conservative Mike.  What used to be a sweet, funny show about a happy family descends into a weekly political debate show where everyone comes across as though they want to slap the crap out of each other over the latest political happenings of the day.

I have a hunch what the network was trying to do.  They essentially moved from modern Home Improvement to modern All in the Family.

If you missed All in the Family, it had the same vibe.  Die hard conservative Archie Bunker would go toe to toe with his super liberal daughter Gloria and son-in-law Mike aka Meathead.

People tend to forget that as much of a hard ass Archie Bunker was, Mike and Gloria were, at times, unbearable in their own ways.

Archie had his pros, namely, he was a good provider and the only one in the household with the brains needed to earn a dollar or get any work done.  He also had his cons in that he was brutish and harsh, stubborn and set in his ways, though occasionally a heart of gold peeked through.

Mike and Gloria had their pros.  They cared about people and the world and were happy go lucky flower children.  But they had their cons, namely, neither one of them could work their way out of a wet paper bag and by the end of the show they had ended up a pair of forty year olds dependent on their elderly father/father-in-law because they were too free spirited to figure out how to earn a living on their own.

In short, the show runners, in my opinion anyway, were trying to say, “Hey, look, both sides have some good ideas, and bad ideas, no one has a complete lock on right and wrong and sometimes when people on opposing sides lock horns, all reason is thrown out the window.”

Apparently, the “new and improved” Kristin and Ryan worked enough to keep the show going for years but personally, I liked the first season better.  I get they are going for modern day Archie vs. Meathead and Gloria in the form of Mike vs. New Kristin and Ryan, but to me, it just comes across as this once adorable, happy family now hates each other.

Mike, like Archie, is a bit of a hard ass, though nowhere near as hard as Archie.  His conservative beliefs clash with New Kristin and Ryan’s liberalism, and the trio spend at least half of every show duking it out in a war of ideology.

Like Archie, Mike is a good provider, but he does try to foist his beliefs on his kids.  Like Meathead and Gloria, New Kristin and Ryan believe their way is the best to help people, but they do come off as ungrateful brats who boinked one night in high school and now they expect their father/father-in-law to raise and pay for their kid for them but they still want to lecture him on how to do it and tell him that he’s doing a shitty job when they should be thanking him for being there for them.

All I know is I just end up missing the happy family that loved each other in season one.

Plus, the bitter political divide the country suffers from can be seen everywhere.  Did we really need to see it on this show too?

Anyway.  Thanks for listening to my five year old complaint, America.  Bring back Alexandra Krosney.

Blah.  I don’t know if I’ll even bother to keep watching it.

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28 thoughts on “They Ruined Last Man Standing

  1. I think I watched the ten minutes of the first episode and felt like it was going to be one of those “let’s make fun of dad cause he can’t do anything right” shows. I was done.

  2. Dakota Kemp says:

    Gotta say, I sympathize with most of your complaints. The first season was fantastic, and Last Man Standing went downhill after that. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch every episode and enjoy the heck out of it, but it definitely peaked in the first season.

    • Yeah, you know after a few episodes of the new Kristen I eventually got used to her and everything. I guess I can’t say whether the old Kristen would have been any better in the long run. They went with an antagonistic Kristen whereas the earlier Kristen was more kind and unlikely to fight with her father so…I don’t know. Wasn’t as horrible as I thought in the long run. Would have been interesting to have seen whether the earlier Kristen could have carried the show in the long run.

    • rapsfan83 says:

      I’m also late to the party but I 100% agree. I just finished binging Season 1 and thought it had a good formula and that the characters showed real chemistry and likeability.

      As soon as it switched to Season 2 the difference hit me like a punch in the face. The interactions seemed really contrived, the characters leaden and unlikable. The new Kristin somehow transformed into a SJW mouthpiece over night. I stopped watching after five minutes and don’t plan to continue.

      Looking at the timeline I get the sense that because it was during an election year they had the leftist propaganda machine on overdrive there at ABC in a coordinated influence campaign. It’s seems so transparent now given the fact that the season premier was all about the election, which itself would take place three days later.

      What a waste of a promising sitcom. I don’t know how it lasted 5 more seasons. I couldn’t even get through a few minutes of the new reworked version of the show.

      • Ironically, I kept watching it and while the change over is tough to take at first, it does grow on you. The sitcom grows into a modern day All in the Family. If you ever watched that, it was basically a show about how families with varying political beliefs can come together. Archie knew how to make money, be a provider and keep his household. Gloria and Mike had some nice thoughts that might have helped Archie soften his angry demeanor but at the same time, they were two hippy der-heads that couldn’t figure out how to hold a steady job. Similarly, Kristin would convince Mike to lighten up about some things. Mike would help her figure out how to survive and take care of herself. They fight about politics but come together anyway. So over time it becomes a nice show about how people with different viewpoints can come together. I think unfortunately, since the dawn of Trump, Hollywood decided there can not be a single instance of a conservative that is a nice guy who isn’t breathing fire so they nixed the show. Ironic as the show had basically been watered down from Mike the strong conservative in the beginning to Mike the dopey conservative who is told how dumb he is by his liberal daughters and wife by the end.

  3. CCR says:

    I am here because I just finished episode 2 of season 2 and felt the same way. Except it isn’t just the oldest daughter and son-in-law who represent the leftist point of view but everybody except Mike’s boss. Why did Tim Allen let them turn the show this way?

  4. Buck Lawson says:

    I can’t stand the new Kristen! She is so disrespectful and how her views changed just because her boyfriend is so liberal and doesn’t even believe in God shows how weak of a woman she is… That’s funny because she’s all about women power on the show. And I can’t stand how she talks. Well sorry to go on like this it doesn’t even matter now! Just makes me mad they had to take a great first season and change it to this.:(

  5. Doug Eurom says:

    Nailed it. Loved the first season, doubt I’ll go past episode 1 of season 2.

  6. xxsnakeskinzxx says:

    THANK YOU!!! I’m a bit late too, but seriously. The new show runner in season two completely ruined it. “We want to rework the family dynamic” was a poor excuse to push a liberal agenda. It went from a good wholesome show with typical Tim Allen fun and family morals where everything always ends happy, and now we have Fox versus CNN going on. Not to mention Amanda Fuller does not do a good of a job as the first actress, but they made her completely liberal and annoying, along with Ryan. I watched this show to escape the mess our country is in right now, but now you made it to where they force a five year old to not recite the pledge. It’s stupid.

  7. Alex Thordarson says:

    I loved Alexandra Krosney, she made Kristen feisty and enough attitude to be cute. The new Kristen is just a total bitch, the kind of person who shows up to a family gathering, and is despised by everyone, for being horrible.

    • Thanks for stopping by. It’s funny how this post has become like, my most popular post. I guess there are a lot of unhappy Last Man Standing fans out there.

      You know, I did like the first Kristen and was miffed that they ditched her for a second Kristen. I’ll admit though that in the whole history of television, I don’t think anyone has been happy when a character is replaced with a different actor who brings a different style and ultimately turns the character into a different person.

      You get to know these characters so I mean, imagine if one of your family members is snatched and replaced with someone who says they are your family member but they talk and act differently.

      That being said, I gave the changed version of the show a chanced and though it took some getting used to, I enjoyed it. I got what they went for – sort of a modern day “All in the Family” vibe where conservative Dad and liberal kids duke it out, the kids can sometimes teach Dad a few things, Dad can sometimes teach the kids a few things, they squabble but they all come together in the end.

      We could use more shows like this in this day and age – shows that repeat the mantra that just because you disagree with me politically doesn’t mean you have to be my enemy. I hate to see what will happen to the country if we keep going down the “everyone who disagrees with my politics is an enemy” road.

    • Gayle D says:

      YES! Can’t STAND her, but Mandy is SOOOOOO self-absorbed I can’t stand her either! I LOVE Eve, not at ALL your typical teen girl. And RYAN…AMAZINGLY annoying.

  8. Laura says:

    Keep watching. It’s a great show and the longer you watch you’ll see how they are really a “ family.” Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Tim Allen and we talked a bit about the show. The original Kristin was supposed to be an Iraq war veteran, but they decided to take the character in a different direction. He is very proud of the show and said “it was like a family.” I could see how it would be. The cast has a great dynamic.
    As annoying as Kristin & Ryan can be, you have Eve to balance that out a bit. Watch Boyd, he’s an interesting little guy as he goes between the influences of his parents and his grandpa. Then, there’s always Mandy & Kyle with their own brand of fun. Don’t forget the Larabees, the back and forth between Chuck and Mike is a what I see between friends in life; affectionate teasing. It’s a decent representation of what actually goes on between people rather than some of the other shows I’ve seen—at the end they still like each other.

  9. Steven Casper says:

    I continued watching the show after season Ones cast changes, but I just have to say you’re right they ruined the show, every time I see the new Kristen I only think why…why did they replace Alexandra Krosney she was witty, funny and a very good actress, and the three girls really looked like they could be sisters, not so much with the new Kristen; as for making the grandson older in the second season other shows have done this as well usually not in the second season, but it’s not that big of a deal not as big as changing a major character was. I just got to say ABC and Disney have really become a less friendly family oriented Network, but then again they are just following their nature of being liberals, wholesome family fun is not in their vocabulary.

    • You know we’ll probably never know what the show would have been like if Alexandra had continued. I assume someone felt there needed to be some conflict. As the new show progressed I got used to it and found it enjoyable even with the changes. I would like to have seen an ending that wrapped it all up at least.

  10. Rene Drone says:

    I like the second Kristen, but I can’t stand the new Ryan, this guy’s an A-hole, he’s rude and obnoxious, and disrespectful towards everyone. Should’ve let Kristen remain a single parent.

    • I think we might always wonder, I guess I can concede that the first season the girls were basically like three yes-women for their dad so there wasn’t a lot of tension…at any rate, I would have liked more episodes even of the changed version.

  11. Hannah Bing says:

    Omg you’ve read my mind but with a more thorough explanation. I totally hate the new Kristin. I’m still watching it though. Binged through the whole show in just a few weeks.
    Amanda fuller’s face and facial reactions don’t do it for me. Plus she and liberal Ryan are just annoying. I guess they just need the long running gag but it’s getting old.
    I’m hoping the next season by fox will let the show and Tim Allen redeem themselves. I am praying for a miracle.
    I really don’t like Amanda fuller. Why does her lower chin need to stick out so bad? I only like half of the characters on the show. Thankfully it’s enough to make up for the terrible cast

    • My feeling is after the first season the suits were like, oh no, the whole family can’t be conservative….(even though there’s a lot of liberal representation on other TV shows) … so they did a modern day Archie Bunker type of thing. Dad has to teach incompetent young adults how to grow up and make money, young adults teach dad to have a heart once in while…I wasn’t a fan of the change though after awhile I liked it enough to keep watching and they at least allowed the youngest daughter to be conservative.

  12. Ally says:

    I tried to watch an episode of Last Man Standing once and just couldn’t get through it. The jokes weren’t funny and it just seemed like everyone was fighting/bickering. I used to love Tim Allen on Home Improvements but he just seemed old and bitter on this show. What’s really annoying is having to see that stupid commercial for the show with Tim Allen bashing ABC (he can’t even keep a straight face while doing it). The show has always been owned by Fox who leased the show to ABC. It wasn’t ABC’s choice to cancel the show. Fox started charging too much so ABC didn’t find it worth it. It’s a stupid show anyways and I was happy when they cancelled. I just hope they stop the annoying commercials soon.

  13. S L says:

    I do not hate any of the characters new or old. It will get some getting used to for me for the new Mandy. Too much of a different look is why.

  14. Robert Labshere says:

    100% agree, in my opinion Ryan is so bad it becomes unwatchable, wish they kept good vibes from season 1 going

  15. Feckless says:

    Whoever did the casting for that show, AFTER season one, pays no mind whatsoever to morphology. Both Amanda fuller, and Molly Mccook, in no way look like they could be part of that family. It becomes impossible to suspend disbelief. The show definitely takes a hit in quality after season one, and becomes purely unwatchable after season six. I wish them luck.

    • Skipper says:

      Yep, completely agree with you Feckless. We have only just got Last Man Standing here in Ireland and I absolutely loved season 1…as for season 2, I cannot watch it.
      I sat there wishing for Mike to punch Ryan in the face or at least tell him not to come back if he can’t show respect or exhibit simple good manners in someone else’s house
      They took a very good show (even if it’s a mirror image of H.I.) and completely destroyed it

      • Well, funny thing is after a while I did get used to it. As much as I didn’t like the change at first, I do wonder how long the show could have gone on with the daughters agreeing with Dad on everything. The new format reminds me of All in the Family, i.e. hippy kids vs. conservative dad. I hate to give a spoiler but they changed Mandies recently. The actress who played Mandy went on to do other things. And the actress who played Eve started to get popular, so she stops by once in awhile but has mostly been replace by a foreign exchange student character. Basically, none of the original daughters are there now.

  16. Mike says:

    And seen an episode of the show before and it never appealed to me but decided to start from the beginning and watch season one. Season one is like a completely different show which I thoroughly enjoyed, it felt more like a loving family without the need to answer conflict just for the purpose of having it. Sadly once I hit season two it reminded me of the episode I had once seen I am completely turned me off from continuing. I felt like the first season demonstrated his opposing views well enough without slapping you in the face and overall had a good balance. I know this doesn’t appeal to everybody but for me it was just a nice show and I enjoyed watching it too bad they felt they had to make such changes after the first season.

    • I debate back and forth about it. I didn’t like the casting changes after the first season (obviously, I wrote a post about it.) After I kept watching, the new family grew on me. Though I liked the new season, I’ll admit his daughters were initially “yes men” who agreed with their dad on everything whereas the change built tension. Sadly, the actress who plays Mandy leaves in later season (can’t really blame her – the show was cancelled and she took other jobs before Fox brought it back) and between that and the actress who plays the youngest daughter’s career blew up so she’s barely on…I don’t know the shows been through too much change to keep going but on the other hand, its the only show on TV where a conservative isn’t portrayed as a fire breathing monster so there will always be a conservative audience for it.

  17. Ian says:

    It’s a very entertaining show imo. I think Tim Allen finally being able to create his own personal dialogue is great. I believe he enjoys making last man standing way more than he did home improvement. I love Eve’s character except for the bitch she is for being a ‘tattletale’ on everyone

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