Last Man Standing was renewed for an eighth season, leaving some fans wondering if Molly Ephraim would come back to play Mandy Baxter after other commitments kept her from playing the role in the show's first season on Fox. There is no sign of Ephraim's return though.
"Wonder if the old Mandy will come back for season 8 she said she couldn't do this season because of other obligations," one fan wrote on Facebook.
"Loved the original Mandy!" added another.
Fox picked up Last Man Standing for Season 8 on Thursday, before the show airs its 150th episode.
“Hard to believe Last Man Standing hits 150 episodes this week and it gets better with another upcoming season at FOX!” star Tim Allen said in a statement. “Great news for all of us who are creating these stories and working our pants off to make you all laugh. It’s another big high-five to the legions of loyal fans who have faithfully kept us front and center and huge on the radar. Thanks to our family at Fox who continue to make us feel so at home. Man, if we keep this up, they might have to call our show: Last Man Unable to Stand.”
Last Man Standing was cancelled at ABC after Season 6 in May 2017, as the network opted to go for an all-drama Friday night line-up for the 2017-2018 TV season. After the show spent a season off the air, Fox picked up the show for a new season. Ironically, the show is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, which is now owned by ABC owner Disney.
While most of the main cast returned — including Allen, Nancy Travis and Amanda Fuller — the middle Baxter daughter Mandy had to be recast. The producers picked The Ranch's Molly McCook, who was initially met with criticism from fans. Some began to embrace her as the season continued, but the season renewal revived interest in bringing Ephraim back.
Ephraim left the series because she found other roles. After Last Man Standing was cancelled, she booked recurring roles on IFC's Brockmire, AMC's Halt and Catch Fire and Hulu's Casual. She also co-starred in Jason Reitman's The Frontrunner with Hugh Jackman. According to IMDb, she does not have another role booked, but Fox made no mention of her in Thursday's announcement.
“At first, I took it pretty personally," McCook told Country Living of the social media backlash she faced when Season 7 debuted last fall. "But the hardcore fans of the show have been extremely supportive."
McCook said she later met Ephraim in person and had a "wonderful conversation."
"I said they were treating me well," McCook recalled. "And that was that."
In another interview, McCook told Entertainment Tonight they did not talk about the character and she has tried hard not to imitate Ephraim.
"I was pretty familiar with the show when I got the audition, but knowing I was a 'recast,' I actually avoided watching it as much as possible. Molly Ephraim did such an amazing job on the show for all of those seasons. I am such an opposite choice; I knew if they were having me audition that they weren’t looking for a replica of Molly," McCook explained last year. "I decided to go into it with a fresh take on the role and in the room, we played around with it a lot, and luckily for me, they wanted a completely fresh take on it, which is what we did."
The casting change was even an in-joke in the first episode of the season, with characters joking about how different Mandy looked. While Ephraim is a shorter actress with dark hair, McCook is tall and blond.0comments
Last Man Standing airs on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. The season finale is scheduled for May 10.
Photo credit: ABC