Friday, October 14, 2011

Pilot Inspektor Tim: Last Man Standing

The show: Last Man Standing, Tuesdays on ABC

The premise in ten words or less? Generic family sitcom starring Tim Allen as macho asshole.

Any good? Let me preface this by saying that Galaxy Quest is one of my favorite movies of all time and I like Buzz Lightyear as much as the next guy, so it's not like I have any kind of anti-Tim Allen agenda. It just so happens that in this case Allen has chosen to dedicate his time to a fetid piece of lowest common denominator crap with all the artistry of a kindergartener's finger painting; a hideously generic laugh track family sitcom that, barring references to contemporary pop culture and the internet, feels like it's fallen through time from 1992. Last Man Standing proudly sucks.

Allen plays Mike Baxter, the titular last man standing in a house otherwise populated by women, namely his wife Vanessa (an unfathomably generic "gets lightheartedly frustrated with stubborn husband, but then they kiss and make up" stock sitcom wife) and their three daughters. The youngest daughter is tomboyish and tends to agree with Mike the most, the middle a girly girl who loves Glee and makeup and whatnot, the oldest a young single mom who got pregnant in high school (the lone aspect of Last Man Standing that strikes me as something from a 21st century show, but don't mistake that for the character actually being dynamic or engaging).

But make no mistake: This is Mike's show. Let me tell you about Mike. Mike Baxter is a motherfuckin' man's man. In the first two episodes, he expresses antipathy and / or hostility towards, but not limited to: The internet, blogs, vlogs, tanning salons, people who don't change their own tires, people who don't hunt, soccer, fantasy football, Harry Potter, Glee, all modern popular culture, the anti-war movement, Islam, gays, foreign languages, and Barack Obama. He works for a sporting goods supplier and rants and raves at length about "What happened to men?!" to the unyielding roar of the laugh track. It might be amusing if he were supposed to be a repulsive neanderthal, but no, he's supposed to be awesome; a hero for the Rick Perry 2012 generation.

The gay jokes, which include Mike pulling his grandson Boyd out of daycare upon learning that one of the babies has two dads and later ranting to his daughter that he doesn't want Boyd to wind up "dancing on a float!", are particularly problematic. It's not that a joke can't be made about homosexuality – Tobias on Arrested Development and Dean Pelton on Community are the butt of many, many gay jokes, largely involving self-denial and futile attempts to get back in the closet – but, in the year 2011, your punchline cannot be "Gays! Disgusting, right?!" (Though, granted, the laugh track disagrees with me, as it did so, so many times while watching Last Man Standing.)

In the couple days since Last Man Standing aired, I've already seen plenty of internet commenters make the brilliant argument that the show is in fact hilarious, it's just not for wimpy PC liberals. Now, don't misunderstand: I take absolutely no offense at the implication that Last Man Standing isn't for me. In fact, I swell with pride to think so. But even if your politics lie to the right of Rick Santorum, if you enjoy laughing at things that are clever and witty, this show is not for you, because it's generic and dumb and boring and aggressively unfunny. Half the jokes in the entire show are structured as "something unmanly occurs or is mentioned, Tim Allen expresses disapproval, laugh track goes apeshit," over and over and over again. Hey assholes! I didn't laugh the first time! I'm not gonna laugh the eightieth time! Fuck off!

Will I watch again? A resounding fuck no. I'm honestly not sure I'd even take it over Whitney. I'm sure the real life Mike Baxters of the world will fucking love it, though.

Premise: D

Execution: D-

Performances: C-

Potential: D+


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