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.