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I've been binging "Last Man Standing." If you're not famliar: it's Tim Allen's latest sitcom where he runs marketing for a sporting-goods store. The vibe's a lot like "Home Improvement" actually -- there are loads of in-jokes/references to that show, but the character's got a very similar life situation, psychology, politics, all that. Definitely not high art, but as intellectual junk food goes, it consistently hits the sweet spot.

They're canceling the show (canceled already? As I said - Netflix...) and I've heard some talk about the politics. The father and at least one of the daughters definitely has a conservative streak (they even quote Barry Goldwater), and liberalism gets painted for laughs sometimes. There are some definite Archie Bunker-Mike Stivic dynamics with one of the daughter's boyfriend/husbands. On the one hand... as sitcoms about middle-class white families go, it's not that bad because they actually show people having political disagreements with well-articulated positions, and the oldest daughter (who's pretty solidly liberal) wins as many arguments as the more conservative characters do. Even when I personally think she shouldn't. It's funny but also pretty grounded in politics and world events, more so than a lot of similar sitcoms.

On the other hand... there's a lot of white privilege at work here, across the spectrum. It's a bit weird to watch, because things that seem so far out of the main (you don't need government to provide healthcare because families really can provide for their own! If you work hard and are smart you're pretty much guaranteed to achieve your dreams, and when they don't pan out it's an unfathomable injustice!)... well, I'm left wondering if this is how middle America actually sees themselves, if these expectations are sincere rather than laughtrack-worthy. It's a bit disorienting to watch, somehow.

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Sep. 24th, 2017 01:01 pm (UTC)
We've enjoyed "Last Man Standing", although it wasn't as much of a "must see" for us as "Home Improvement" was. We catch it more in occasional re-runs than on the night it's on.

I do like the more realistic political give and take of the show--like you said, not something I've seen in a sit-com since "All in the Family". (Although unlike Carroll O'Connor, who was a staunch liberal, Allen is actually a conservative Republican.) In fact, I didn't know that at first, and was surprised to find it out, since he seems to take the mickey out of certain types of conservatism as well. His gun-toting character's rants certainly are as sarcastically funny as some of the liberal jabs.

"White privilege"? or just the fact that in general, sit-coms tend to not want to show the "real" side of life. Usually sit-com families live in nice places and rarely have money problems or deal with things like race. If they do, they are usually solved in a half-hour. It's tradition. Even in shows supposedly about "real" folks don't show the reality of it, whether the families are white, black, or another race, gay, straight, whatever: the problems they face are always situational and funny, rather than chronic and difficult.

I suppose that's why I've sort of gone off sit-coms. Even the ones I sort of like, I don't make a point of watching every time, the way I once did. I watch a lot of YouTube now--funny cats and dogs never get old.

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