Last Man Standing: Vanessa Gets A “Tattoo”

Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing is a good show because it sticks to what works. While straying from innovation can sometimes lead to stale, boring sitcoms, that is not the case here. This show works because it twists a classic sitcom on a modern era, even though it’s still very much about family, and it makes it funny for a newer generation. I had an epiphany during “Tattoo” that helped me realize just exactly how relevant Last Man Standing is to a modern, family audience in a Modern Family world.

This week on Last Man Standing: Vanessa, distressed by the relationship with her own mother, wants her relationship with her own daughters to evolve now that they’re older. So she decides to get tattoos with them, but the girls shoot her down. Meanwhile, Ryan goes to Outdoor Man seeking help to learn how to camp. He doesn’t learn much with Kyle as an instructor, but is able to teach Ed a little something.

This is a hard episode to review, because it’s the same. There is a lot about it that maintains the status quo of the series, and doesn’t stray too far one way or the other. How it was different, though, was as a wonderful showcase for Nancy Travis’ Vanessa. Usually, Vanessa takes on the “classic mom” role, and can often fall into the sitcom trope of a wife. But this episode really put her at the forefront, and showcased how difficult modern motherhood can be. Maintaining connection with your children as they grow older is an extremely difficult task. Vanessa’s struggle through the episode was realistic, and that’s an important quality in a show.

Sometimes, when shows teach you lessons about your mother, or doing something nice for your wife before she even knows about it, they can stray into cheesy territory. Sounds delicious, right? While one could argue that Last Man Standing has toed that line for years, I would argue that they know their audience, and are still pushing boundaries and telling important stories. So many of the lessons learned and approaches taken in this show are lost to the rest of the world. Last Man Standing is doing important work, and “Tattoo” was evidence of that.

As always, here are some of my favorite quotes/moments from the episode:

  • “Heh heh. My mom’s dead.”- Mike
  • “Look who just gave Father Time the finger!”- Mike again
  • “Never ask women why they’re laughing. It’s better than crying or yelling.”- Mike, with some sound advice
  • “My dad says that hot dogs are poison”- Boyd
  • “You’re being a real Mrs. Lincoln right now.”- Mike
  • “Craig is not being weird. Craig is dead.”- Kyle, with his take on the horror genre
  • “I don’t want them hanging out with you anymore.”- Mike
  • “Covering your back with a portrait of President Marco Rubio is probably something you’ll regret a year from now…when you’re in one of Donald Trump’s internment camps”
  • Tim Allen’s little director bit at the end was a fun little fourth wall break.

“Tattoo” was a great illustration of how this show operates, and why it’s important in the TV landscape. Though not the most hilarious episode they’ve ever done, it was still poignant and well-written, and Tim Allen did a great job as director.

What did you guys think? Did you enjoy the episode? Let us know.

Last Man Standing airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC

Last Man Standing Season 5 Episode 20 Review: "Tattoo"


Kyle teaches Ryan how to camp, and Vanessa tries to connect with her adult daughters on this week’s Last Man Standing.

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