Mike Judge’s “King of the Hill” is like comfort food. When you turn it on, you know exactly what you’re going to get, and you know it’s going to make you feel good. Like a propane grill that you know is going to light every time and cook evenly.
The show made its fair share of social statements, but to a lesser degree than its animated contemporaries like “South Park” or “Family Guy.” Rather than biting satire, Judge used what has worked for live-action sitcoms for decades — the fish-out-of-water trope and observational comedy. Judge explained his simple formula to IGN, saying, “It’s usually putting Hank up against something really annoying and ridiculous in the modern world and just making it as annoying and ridiculous as possible.”
It helped that Hank was a conservative pragmatist during an era when society began to grow more progressive. In one episode, Hank’s affinity for outdated “traditional values” made it difficult to deal with a “new age” parenting style. Judge took what “new age” parenting might normally look like and made it as absurd as possible.
It’s a surprisingly simple formula for a show that ran for 13 seasons. But the show also used humor to address complex issues that are often difficult for people to talk about. Although there was nothing groundbreaking about the show’s formula, the impact of “King of the Hill” has been extensive.