Fans of Last Man Standing have been vocal on social media about their displeasure with actress Molly Ephraim’s departure from the role of Mandy Baxter, and her replacement by actor Molly McCook. The #NotMyMandy hashtag has circulated on Twitter as fans voice their discontent with Ephraim’s replacement.
Interestingly, the show’s ratings fell a sizable amount from it’s smashing Week 1 premiere to Week 2.
“Fox’s ‘Last Man Standing’ (1.3, 6.0 million) was down -27% in the demo and 2 million viewers from its strong premiere last week. It still finished as No. 1 on Friday among adults 18-49 and was above its previous season average on ABC but we will have to see what level the Tim Allen sitcom settles at and whether it would continue to get sizable DVR bumps,” Deadline reported.
Some fans have been quick to say that they would no longer be watching the show since Ephraim is no longer a part of the cast. While that could have been the reason behind the show’s drop in ratings, it seems more likely that the drop was more of just a normal episode one to episode two differential.
Even still, the chatter surrounding Ephraim’s departure has been abundant. It’s something that showrunners expected, however. Showrunner Kevin Abbott discussed the backlash with Entertainment Weekly, saying that it was “fully expected.”
“We fully expected it. You don’t take a character played by an actress that’s beloved and suddenly switch them out. I’m glad they missed Molly Ephraim, that’s a good thing. And they’re going to go through the same process we did in casting. When Molly McCook walked in we thought, “that’s not going to work.” Physically that’s not going to work. And then she’s just so good. We thought maybe another character? Then we thought she’s the best actress, let’s go with it. We had some fun with it in the opening episode [about the physical differences between the actors] and then dropped that. It’s a little jarring when you grow to love her. The actresses feelings were not hurt — well, she said ‘very briefly’ and then she got past it. We hope the audience starts to feel the way we do. She’s not doing an imitation of Molly Ephraim playing Mandy, she’s playing Mandy her own way,” Abbott told EW.
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