Molly Ephraim, who played Mike Baxter's middle daughter Mandy, was released by Molly McCook, who starred on Netflix's The Ranch as Darlene. Flynn Morrison, who played Mike's grandson Boyd, was also replaced by Jet Jurgensmeyer.
"It’s a daunting task to replace characters that we love and adore. I come from the acting side of it: I’ve been replaced. It’s very difficult for the actor part of me," Allen told Parade Magazine. "Mandy [Ephraim] is a tough one to doppelgänger, so where we headed is not to doppelgänger. The new Mandy will not look like her because that’s trying too hard."
Boyd was recast under different circumstances. Morrison's parents said they wanted him to attend a normal school and the writers chose to age-up the character so they could higher an older child actor.
"Boyd is going to have to be an older boy. Flynn Morrison’s family wants him to get into a normal school situation, which is probably a great idea, so we’ll move on to a Boyd that’s a little bit older," Allen told the magazine. "It’s going to be a little startling. It’s going to be a kid that can actually take some emotional shots from me and his parents."
Ephraim left the show after she got a chance to work on other projects after ABC cancelled Last Man Standing in early 2017, executive producer Matt Berry told reporters at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in August.
“It’s unfortunate. We love her deeply. She’s a big part of who we were," Berry said before McCook was cast, reports TVLine. "But [it’s] exciting for us to look around and see who we can get to play that character. We want someone to come in and not play Molly Ephraim. We want somebody to come in and play Mandy. We’ve seen a lot of great actresses.”
The recasting will even be joked about in the new season. Executive producer Kevin Abbott told TVLine that Mandy's husband Kyle (Christoph Sanders) cannot figure out what is different about his wife's looks.
“Mandy’s mad at Kyle because she’s changed something about her looks and he can’t tell what it is,” Abbott told the site. “He thinks she looks exactly the same, and so does Mike.”
Otherwise, Abbott said Mandy was written as the same character she was before.
Kaitlyn Dever will be back to play Mike's youngest daughter, Eve. However, Dever will only be back on a recurring basis, which makes sense for the character. She was accepted to the Air Force Academy at the end of season six.
"This couple is getting close to an empty nest, there are family issues as children get older and children have children, so it’s all of that," Allen said of Mike and his wife, Vanessa (Nancy Travis).
Allen assured viewers that there are no other significant changes on the show. Mike's Outdoor Man vlog is even returning.
"The writers of Mike’s vlog are so smart. I’ve said stuff in that vlog as Mike that I wished I’d said," Allen said. "They encapsulate a Zen point of view of that guy that you may not agree with, but you’ve got to admit it’s a good point of view."1comments
Last Man Standing returns on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Photo credit: Michael Becker/Fox