VOICES: Mike Judge, Kathy Najimy, Pamela Adlon, Johnny Hardwick, Stephen Root, Brittany Murphy, Toby Huss, David Herman, Ashley Gardner Review by Joshua Kelley
Hank Hill is an old fashioned, hardworking, beer drinking man who is trying to live in a modern Texas world. His wife is opinionated, his son is a disappointment, his friends are losers, and his Father is oppressive. But through it all, Hank keeps a level head, a strong sense of morality, and by doing so keeps himself "King of the Hill."
There is a polarity in this country. The ideas and opinions of the general population are so predictable that they voluntarily put themselves into two groups that are so inane and intangible they are defined by colors; you're either red or blue. Or you're a cognitive human being, but that population is so small, we won't pay attention to them. Plus, they have no voting power, and certainly no filibuster abilities. But I digress. You see, being a red or a blue means that you can't agree with what the other color says. It's automatic. Whatever one says, it must mean you agree with the opposite. It makes politics simple (unless you care) and it makes marketing very predictable. Notice how MSNBC uses mostly the color blue in their graphics and Fox News uses mostly red. See, predictable. One side can NEVER agree with the other side, it's just physically impossible. This however does not necessarily mean that both sides can't enjoy the same thing, as long as the reasons for doing so differ from one another. Case in point, King of the Hill.
King of the Hill showcases middle America, both in the economic and geographical sense. The main character, Hank, is a tragic hero whose major flaw is that he is a genuinely nice guy in a world full of people who will screw you without a hint of remorse. In one episode, he learns that his long time car salesman has been selling him cars more expensively, taking advantage of Hank's unwavering trust and loyalty. He confronts the salesman and asks him why he would do that to him, and the salesman replies, "Hank, I'm a salesman." Hank replies, "I know, your a salesman, that's why none of this makes sense." Hank lives in a fantasy world where honor and honesty trump all, and, being a propane salesman himself, he believes that a person in services has only one duty: to please the customer, not raise the profit margin. Just plain silly.
This dual conception epitomizes the entire show. When one watches the Hills and their neighbors and the jokes that ensue, they can either interpret it as relative or ironic. The writers are very good at straddling this line. Are they making fun of these characters, or are they trying to relate to the audience? Or, are they doing both (gasp!)? Yes, it would seem that the most obvious answer is also the scariest, that the people responsible for this show aren't taking a side, but rather are just trying to honestly and genuinely entertain. The Reds think South Park is destroying the youth. The Blues can't watch Bill O'Reilly for more than two minutes without hurling something at the screen. But both can watch King of the Hill, and can choose whether to laugh at or with.
Of course one can't deny that Hank and his family are conservative. But still, political opinions are thankfully avoided for the majority of the time, and the conservatism is treated as more of a neutrality, a universal sans-political idea of how life works. Hank has a way of thinking and doing that is genuine and comes from morality and family values and just assumes that everyone feels the way he does. Being a family man and thinking Obama is a Socialist are two very different things.
So whether you are blue, red, green, or a person, King of the Hill is a show for you to enjoy. This show reminds us that despite what the men on T.V. tell you, we do have some common ground on which to laugh. Yes, it seems we can all come together under the indiscriminate rainbow of advertising dollars, if only for a half hour.