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Last Man Standing's finale erased any pretense of separation between Tim Allen and Mike Baxter with "right-wing dog-whistle"

  • On Thursday's series finale, Baxter made a reference to "makers and takers" after his truck was stolen. "Last Man Standing was never going to depart without circling back to its 2011 beginnings, but Allen's choice to sign off with these right-wing dog-whistles shows he's looking to infinity and beyond, and betting that this show's legacy will be to vindicate the version of reality he shares with his base," says Melanie McFarland. "In this interpretation, car theft isn't some random misfortune suffered by a wealthy man, but a symptom, somehow, of the undeserving reaping the fruit of honest people's labor. 'Makers and takers' was one of former Republican congressman Paul Ryan's favorite phrases; it's also white grievance terminology dating back to the pre-Civil War era. It rolls off the tongue so easily, this shorthand for the myth that tax-funded government assistance programs that help the needy also make them more indolent. But shucks, maybe I'm seeing something that isn't really there. Mike is only talking about his truck, and Allen is talking about his show; and in another interpretation the 'taker' is 20th Television, now owned by Walt Disney, which also owns ABC, where Last Man Standing ran for six seasons. I want it make it abundantly clear that its conservative skew doesn't make it a terrible sitcom. There's room on TV for all types of viewpoints, and certainly liberal creatives outnumber conservatives in Hollywood. Remove Allen from the mix, and Last Man Standing would be a harmless, decent family show demonstrating the ways that folks can hold different points of view, even quarrel, but still demonstrate loving kindness toward one another. This is how its fans would describe it and will remember it. What's concerning is Allen's choosing to top off his show's overall veneer of homespun sweetness with such direct shout-outs to white male resentment, expecting that somehow we are supposed to laugh it off.  It's not as if these concepts aren't normal family sitcom fare, but they're presented like harmless quips when they're not. If anything, they make the show's centrism look disingenuous."

    TOPICS: Last Man Standing, FOX, Tim Allen