Earlier this summer the cast and producers of Last Man Standing said the show wasn't going to talk about Donald Trump in Season 7, which will air on Fox after the series was canceled by ABC after six seasons. However, the show is definitely wasting no time in talking about politics. The premiere was screened for press and fans during the Paley Fest Fall Previews in Los Angeles on Thursday, and it centers on how America's political divide is causing a giant rift in the Baxter family.
While the episode doesn't specifically mention the president by name, or even mention political parties at all, lines are drawn in the sand between the left and the right. Unlike Roseanne, which jumped into the specific issues that separated the Conners, Last Man Standing just wants to address the split happening in families as conservatives and liberals separate into their own factions.
"What the first episode was really about, what was really important to us as storytellers and the people who are in the show, is that the country now — we've separated too much," executive producer Matt Berry explained after the screening. "We've separated into camps and there's all these divisions. While this show is featuring a character that is unusual on TV and is from a conservative standpoint, the basis of this show is that it's a family. It's a family show. This is a family that loves each other and would do anything for each other... That speaks to something that needs to be said right now."
Even though the show isn't afraid to touch on politics — Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is a proud and vocal conservative — the show isn't attempting to stand on a soapbox every week.
"We deal with current issues when they arrive in a natural course of events in telling a story, when they affect everybody's lives," added showrunner Kevin Abbott. "We don't start off going, 'This week let's do a show about healthcare. Let's do a show about this.' That's not how we approach it."
However, that doesn't mean politics won't be discussed at all. Mike will be the vehicle used to comment on those matters when they arise in the story. "We have a character at the center of this show that is conservative and is involved politically, so we will be able to naturally make commentary and get responses," Abbot said. "That's not our primary drive. Our primary drive is to tell good, entertaining, enlightening stories about our characters."
While the current political climate is tearing people apart, the cast and crew of the show hope that by exploring these issues they can actually help people heal and learn to respect each other again. Hector Elizondo, for one, is hoping the show can be more of a bridge than another dividing moment.
"I want it to help heal the schism more than anything else, for people to start talking to each other in America," the actor said. "And to laugh at one another and with each other. If we can come close to that, it's a hell of a lot."
Last Man Standing returns Friday, Sept. 8 at 8/7c on Fox.