Tuesday, October 01, 2013

King of the Hill

We've been watching through the seasons of King of the Hill on Netflix, although now they have been removed.

When I first watched the show when it was broadcast, I didn't find much about it worth watching besides the occasional joke. Being older, wiser, and a little more observant, I now see how brilliant the show is in terms of actually developing a conservative and authentic moral worldview without being patronizing, naïve, or cliché in its delivery. The sense of family, even a family as convoluted as the Gribbles, is strong and real, because while the individual characters are themselves so monomaniacally focused on their own selves, their egoism doesn't end up destroying the lives of others around them. Somehow, in each episode, they become together.

It's that joyfulness so conspicuously absent in other "family-oriented" shows that King of the Hill captures so very well.

Of course, it isn't all good times, but there's also an honesty about what's awful in the world. Even then, the awful characters and the awful decisions are portrayed humorously and poignantly. One of my favorite scenes is from Season 5, "The Exterminator." Dale, unable to continue work as a bug exterminator, temps at a business long enough for them to recognize his talents as an exterminator—in the world of corporate bureaucracy, he simply fires people.

DALE: Louis, you've been with Stik Tek how long?
LOUIS: It'll be fourteen years next week.
DALE: No, it won't. You're fired!
LOUIS: Fired? But I --
DALE: Yeah, yeah. Look, I have to eat, she has to pee, and he has to get back to selling propane or he'll wind up in the same boat as you.
LOUIS: But I've got four children!
DALE: I had someone in here today with eight. Heck, I once killed a beetle with thirty million in her egg sack.

The logic is real. Given what Dale does is heartlessly murder living beings, appealing to his sympathies towards children is foolish. A reasonable person might find Dale's logic absurd, but an even more reasonable person recognizes that it's not about the number, and it never was. The real absurdity is the father thinking the number of kids he has makes him more valuable than the career employee with fewer kids or no kids. Humans only get away with this thinking because we don't want to admit the problem in our values.

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