Gun group weighs in on ABC cancellation of ‘Last Man Standing’

LAST MAN STANDING - "Mike's Pole" -- When Mike hangs his prized U.S. flag in the yard, 14-year-old Eve is inspired by her father's patriotism and announces she wants to join the Junior ROTC, which concerns Vanessa. Later on, a chance meeting at the VFW with a female armory gunner has an impact on Eve, on "Last Man Standing," FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 (8:00-8:31 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/MICHAEL ANSELL) TIM ALLEN

In ‘Last Man Standing,’ Tim Allen stars as Mike Baxter, a marketing executive for a sporting goods chain store called Outdoor Man. (Photo: Michael Ansell/ABC)

The gun industry’s trade organization said Wednesday the sudden cancellation of a popular network sitcom hits close to home.

Last week, ABC axed its top-rated Friday night series Last Man Standing, featuring Tim Allen as Mike Baxter, a conservative family man and marketing executive for a fictional sporting goods chain store called Outdoor Man.

“Outdoor Man was a Hollywood set version of a sporting goods store, of course, but it did have a gun counter and there was a gun cabinet in the Baxter household. There were plenty of references to hunting,” NSSF said Wednesday. “Last Man Standing also was a family-oriented show with life lessons every week delivered through plot lines involving his wife, three daughters, two sons in law and a neighbor. In many ways, the show was an island of mainstream values in a sea of network political correctness and pandering.”

The announcement spawned widespread speculation the network dumped Allen for his right-wing views and overt support for President Donald Trump, both on and off the camera — a rumor the network has denied.

“What people saw was a loving family with a main character and supporting cast members employed in our industry,” NSSF said of the show’s enduring popularity. “Guns were discussed for their use in hunting and the shooting sports and, in at least one episode, for self-defense.”

The series anchored the ABC’s Friday night line-up for six years, raking in more than 8 million viewers in its latest season — second only to Modern Family. Deadline reports Last Man Standing rates as ABC’s third most watched scripted series overall, behind Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family.

Still, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said she cancelled the series May 10 after network executives decided on a change of direction for the Friday night line-up away from comedies and into superhero dramas.

“We make tough calls and cancel shows that we otherwise would have loved to stay on the air. That’s the job,” Dungey said in a phone call with reporters Tuesday, according to CNN. “But I canceled ‘Last Man Standing’ for the same business and scheduling reasons that I canceled ‘The Real O’Neals,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘The Catch’ and ‘American Crime.'”

Allen tweeted Tuesday he felt “stunned and blindsided” by the network’s decision.

“We’re sure that we speak for many of our NSSF members in saying are sorry to see this series end,” NSSF said. “If it existed in the real world, Outdoor Man would be a retailer member and Mike Baxter would attend the SHOT Show.”