Fox’s Last Man Standing is set to kick off its ninth and final season with a three-year time jump — and the introduction of an adorable new family member.
TVLine has your exclusive first look at Jan. 3 premiere, which introduces Mandy and Kyle’s daughter Sarah (played by newcomer Sophia McKinlay). Her arrival comes midway through the episode, after the long-running comedy acknowledges the coronavirus, then leaps ahead to the year 2023, after the global crisis has been resolved.
“People are depressed enough without having to look for us to be depressed,” executive producer Kevin Abbott tells TVLine about the decision to sidestep COVID-19. “[The time jump] allowed us to tell stories from a positive point of view while addressing the impact [the pandemic has had] on our characters. They all change in a way.”
That includes Mike and Vanessa’s middle daughter Mandy (played by Molly McCook), who is still adjusting to her role as Sarah’s mom.
“Mandy has been a career woman dedicated to her business, [and we find out that] her fashion line actually did quite well during the pandemic,” Abbott reveals. “But she discovers that what she really cares about most is being with her baby, so she pulls back to become a stay-at-home mom.
“She has to grapple with how she feels about that in terms of identifying as somebody’s mother, as opposed to identifying as me,” Abbott explains. “She’s still going to be Mandy, but time will have changed her. Motherhood will have changed her.”
As for new dad Kyle, “He is moving forward with becoming a pastor,” the EP confirms. Amid 2020’s many crises, Mike’s son-in-law “saw how faith is important to a lot of people. He is now stronger and much deeper [into his new career], and we have a few stories about that.”
Last Man Standing Season 9 premieres on a special night, Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9:30/8:30c, before moving to its regular time slot — Thursdays at 9:30 pm — beginning Jan. 7 (with the big Home Improvement crossover). In the meantime, scroll down to see additional photos of Sarah with Mom and Grandpa Mike, then hit the comments with your reactions.