King of the Hill
King of the Hill is an American animated sitcom created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels that ran from January 12, 1997 to September 13, 2009 on Fox (May 3−6, 2010 on Adult Swim for the remaining unaired four episodes, before the final episode). It centers on the Hills, a middle-class American family in the fictional city of Arlen, Texas. It attempts to maintain a realistic approach, seeking humor in the conventional and mundane aspects of everyday life.
Why It Rocks
- Amazing animation that improves every season, especially in later seasons (Seasons 8-13, when it started using digital ink and paint).
- Great voice acting from the cast.
- Catchy theme song by The Refreshments.
- Likable, memorable and relatable characters, such as Hank, Bobby, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer.
- The satirical portrayal of American conservatism and lesser extent right-wing libertarianism works excellently throughout the whole show. It's one of the very few shows that portray them with respect and not revolving to the most basic stereotypes of conservatives and right-wingers.
- Usually does a good job of providing nuanced situations where Hank's traditional ways are somewhat flawed, but so are many of the supposedly progressive alternatives.
- Memorable episodes such as Keeping Up with Our Joneses, Meet the Manger Babies, Hank's Dirty Laundry, A Fire Fighting We Will Go, Aisle 8-A and Bobby Goes Nuts.
- The final episode (in production order) To Sirloin with Love, shows Hank and Bobby finally get along as a father and son should due to Bobby finally having a shared interest with his father, ended in a very good note, and was also a massive improvement from the rest of the later episodes. The final episode to air, Just Another Manic Kahn-Day (listed as the last episode on Hulu), is also pretty good as it shows Hank and Kahn getting along and working together.
- It can get very boring at times.
- The animation in Season 1 is less than impressive due to weird movements and stilted animation.
- Peggy Hill can be a pretty unlikable character, especially in later seasons.
- The unnecessary retcon with her birthplace being changed from Arlen to somewhere in Montana and her mother's personality also being changed from rather strict but well-meaning to a stereotypical abusive mother to try and justify her behavior.
- Like most animated Fox shows at the time, the show wasn't safe from losing quality in its final seasons.
- Lucky is very unlikeable, and many cite his introduction as the beginning of the show's decline.
- Some political jokes turn pretty dark in later seasons, especially in Uh-Oh, Canada.
- Some of the more cartoonish satire feels out of place in the usually realistic show.
- In the later seasons, the plots become less nuanced and Hank is often undeservedly portrayed as being totally in the right.
- Had its fair share of bad episodes like Pretty, Pretty Dresses, Lupe's Revenge, Get Your Freak Off, Uh-Oh, Canada, Death Picks Cotton and most infamously, Pigmalión, the latter of which got banned in syndication due to its violent ending.
- Comedy Central cut out several scenes and jokes while the show was syndicated on their channel.
King of the Hill received critical acclaim over its 13-year run. Early reviews of the show were positive. Diane Holloway at the Chicago Tribune considered it the "most Texan television series since Dallas", and praised the show's "sly sense of humor and subversive sensibility". At the Los Angeles Times, writer Howard Rosenberg suggested that the show "totes a few smiles, but [there's] little to bowl you over, and it takes a spell getting used to". The show's first season received an approval rating of 81% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on sixteen reviews. Its consensus reads "King of the Hill's mild yet extremely funny depiction of small-town Texas life is refreshingly worlds away from conventional prime-time animation". The fifth and thirteenth seasons received more critical praise with a 100% approval rating.
At the show's conclusion, James Poniewozik at Time opined that it had "quietly been the best family comedy on TV", calling the show's ending "one of the most moving things I've seen on TV this year". Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger described it as "sweeter and more human than the great majority of live-action sitcoms that overlapped its run". Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club described the program as a "steadfast, down-to-earth series", while noting "the show saw its fair share of silly conceits and contrived setups — and got fairly repetitive in the final seasons".
Writers have examined the show through a political lens. "It's not a political show", said Mike Judge in 1997, "It's more a populist, common sense point of view". In 2005, Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine called it "the most subtle and complex portrayal of small-town voters on television". A 2016 reappraisal from The Atlantic dubbed it the "last bipartisan TV comedy", with writer Bert Clere noting the program "imbued all of its characters with a rich humanity that made their foibles deeply sympathetic. In this, King of the Hill was far ahead of its time, and the broader TV landscape has yet to catch up".
King of the Hill is currently ranked No. 27 on IGN's "Top 100 Animated TV Series". In 2013, TV Guide ranked King of the Hill as one of the top 60 Greatest TV Cartoons of All Time.