Patricia Richardson Left Home Improvement Because “I Was Mad” At Tim Allen Over Pay Gap

Summary

  • Behind the scenes of “Home Improvement,” there was a large pay gap between Patricia Richardson and Tim Allen, leading to Richardson’s departure.
  • Richardson’s bravery in walking away from a $25 million payday due to unequal pay showcases her strength and character in the industry.
  • While the show was popular during its run, “Home Improvement” hasn’t maintained its legacy, possibly, in part, due to controversies surrounding Tim Allen’s politics.



While the Taylors were a big, (mostly) happy family in the ’90s sitcom, Home Improvement, there were problems behind the scenes, particularly a large pay gap between Jill actress Patricia Richardson and her co-star, Tim Allen. Running for eight seasons, the sitcom saw Tim “The Toolman” Taylor (Allen) balancing hosting his home improvement show, Tool Time with his hectic family life. Set against the backdrop of a suburban neighborhood, it resonated with many middle-class viewers, who saw themselves in the characters and their relatable storylines. The show also made a huge star out of Randy Taylor actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas.


While JTT drew in many young people, the chemistry between Tim and his wife, Jill (Richardson) was why mature viewers kept tuning in every week. Jill was the voice of reason in the Taylor household, and though she loved and cared for her family, she wasn’t afraid to pursue her own goals, even choosing to attend grad school and inspiring many real-life female viewers to do the same. Defying the nagging wife stereotype, Jill wasn’t afraid to call Tim out, but their marriage was a loving one. However, things weren’t quite so wonderful between Richardson and Allen behind the scenes.

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Tim Allen is reuniting with ABC for a third comedy series after Home Improvement’s success and Last Man Standing’s cancellation in 2017.


Patricia Richardson Refused To Do Home Improvement Season 9 After Huge Pay Gap With Tim Allen

TV Executives Refused To Kill Jill Taylor Off The Show, So Season 9 Was Dead In The Water

Patricia Richardson as Jill Taylor and Tim Allen as Tim Taylor smiling in their backyard in Home Improvement


Home Improvement ran for eight seasons from 1991-1999, and when season 8 came around, the actors were tired, and the quality of the show was diminishing. However, executives wanted to do a ninth season and approached their lead actors with an offer: a 25-episode ninth season with $2 million per episode for Tim Allen and $1 million per episode for Patricia Richardson. Unsurprisingly, Allen accepted but Richardson wouldn’t stand for such a dramatic pay gap. She came back with a proposition of her getting an executive producer credit and the same pay per episode as Allen. She told the LA Times,

I knew that Disney would in no way pay me that much. That was my way to say ‘no’ and was a little bit of a flip-off to Disney. I’d been there all this time, and they never even paid me a third of what Tim was making, and I was working my a** off. I was a big reason why women were watching.


The producers rejected her offer, and just like that, the plan for Home Improvement season 9 was scrapped — without Richardson, there was no show. Executive producers Carmen Finestra and Elliot Shoenman commented:

Some shows would have had the mom die. I don’t remember one discussion where we said, ‘How can we keep this going without Pat?’ It just couldn’t have worked. (Finestra)

Without her, it just didn’t make any sense. (Shoenman)

It took real bravery and character for Richardson to walk away from a $25 million payday, especially in the ’90s when not nearly as many female actors were fighting for equal pay. Adding insult to injury was the fact that, according to Richardson, she had no support from Allen, her co-star of eight years, and he was actually angry with her decision. She said,

I was mad at Tim because he was leaving me alone being the only person saying no, which made me feel terrible and like the bad guy, and he was upset with me for leaving.


Home Improvement ended on May 25, 1999, and the series finale saw the Taylors pick up and move to Indiana so Jill could pursue a new career. So, while, Richardson may not have gotten the pay she deserved, Jill Taylor was in the driver’s seat in the end.

While
Home Improvement
ended with a contentious relationship between Patricia Richardson and Tim Allen, she did reunite with him on his sitcom,
Last Man Standing
, in which she played neighbor Helen Potts in two episodes.

Richardson Blames Allen’s Conservative Politics On Home Improvement’s Lack Of Legacy

The Sitcom Isn’t Nearly As Iconic As Its ’90s Contemporaries Seinfeld & Friends

Wilson (Earl Hindman) wearing a face mask while talking to Jill (Patricia Richardson) in Home Improvement


During its run, Home Improvement was a mainstay in the TV ratings, even cracking the number one spot (via LA Times). However, over 25 years later, Home Improvement hasn’t maintained the legacy its popularity suggested it would have. And a big reason for this, according to Patricia Richardson, is the controversies surrounding Tim Allen, particularly his conservative politics and support of the Republican party. She said,

I think it’s about Tim, and it’s about his politics. Of course, I don’t like his politics.

Allen’s controversies don’t end there. In her 2023 memoir, Love, Pamela, former “Tool Time girl” Pamela Anderson alleged that Allen flashed her on-set. Between his politics and these allegations, it’s very possible that Allen has put viewers off rewatching Home Improvement.


While Richardson may be correct in blaming her co-star for Home Improvement‘s absence in “best shows of the ’90s” lists, the reason may simply be that the sitcom, while funny and endearing, isn’t as memorable as its contemporaries. As the “show about nothing”, Seinfeld was a revelation in finding humor in the mundane. Meanwhile, Friends‘ complex love and relationship storylines made it a water cooler show when it aired, and it’s still finding new fans to this day. And while Home Improvement may no longer be iconic, Patricia Richardson’s fight for equal pay certainly is.

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