[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Last Man Standing. Read at your own risk!]
Like a lot of shows, Last Man Standinghad its production schedule interrupted by COVID-19, and was unable to shoot the episode intended to be the Season 8 finale. There are a few episodes left before it goes on hiatus, but Amanda Fuller -- better known as Mike (Tim Allen) and Vanessa's (Nancy Travis) eldest daughter Kristin on the show -- got to direct one before the season ends: her very first try at directing, "Garage Band," which aired last week. In it, Kyle (Christoph Sanders) causes some competitive anxiety among the family after giving a "fun" pop psychology exam, and Mike ( does what he does best -- stirs the pot -- by taking some good-natured ribbing too far, causing Joe (Jay Leno) to get his feelings hurt.
"It was challenging," she said from home, where she's caring for a five-month-old with her husband Matthew Bryan Feld. "As much as I studied, what I learned most is to figure out my version, not just emulate or copy how [others] work."
Multi-cam shows like Last Man Standing are run like min-plays, with the actors, cameras, lights and microphones all working in a succinctly coordinated effort that's as tightly choreographed as a ballet. "It was terrifying to call the shots to the camera men who have grown to be my family, and all of a sudden I'm telling them what to do," she said. "It's a very mathematical equation...a very specific look you need to honor that to tell that story." But everyone was accommodating and encouraging (she asked for a shot to do it last season, and this was the first opportunity that came up) and it ended up being an affirming experience. "I can't wait to get back in and do it again."
Of course, it's not every day that someone gets to tell Tim Allen what to do but she found that he couldn't have been more gracious. "He is like a second dad to me. He doesn't like to be told what to do by me or anybody, but he doesn't get enough credit as an actor. He has a very thorough process when making sure the story is told properly; he will spend rehearsals asking every question, debating every bit of it. He was the most challenging of the actors to work with, because he was asking all the tough questions."
As happens in sitcom world, harmony is re-established by the end of the episode, with Kyle having smoothed over the fuss he caused, and Joe's wounded pride somewhat restored. But there's at least one noticeable storyline lingering: Kristin is still very much pregnant. So how's Kristin's impending delivery going to be resolved on the show? Fuller said it'll now be a cliffhanger.
"In the last episode we shot, Kristin's going into labor," she said. They'd intended for fans to see Kristin having the baby in the final episode; how that pans out now may very well call for some new creative solutions -- maybe even a coronavirus storyline. Given how much the show already incorporates real-life events, Fuller said "I can't imagine not addressing it. If we're lucky enough to get a Season 9, I can't imagine skipping it altogether."
Last Man Standing airs Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.