King of the Hill: FOX
Scott Brown
July 01, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

We gave it an A-

In ”The Company Man,” part of King of the Hill: The Complete First Season, propane-selling Texas mensch Hank Hill, overcome with disgust at an obnoxious Yankee client’s generalizations about Texas, exclaims, ”You can’t even keep your stereotypes straight!” It’s an accusation no one could ever lodge against ”King of the Hill”: The Fox animated series OWNS its stereotypes, and leverages them all in the service of supple, sophisticated satire. As has been noted many times in these pages, ”KOTH” is perhaps the only TV program to explore this country’s semirural heart without bicoastal condescension. The Hills are cartoons, sure, but they’re not caricatures — and, thankfully, creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels understood that distinction in their very first season. As ”Simpsons” vet Daniels reveals in a commentary (Judge is absent), it all could very easily have gone wrong: One of their early directorial candidates wanted to redesign the characters as snaggletoothed rubes. Luckily, they stuck to their guns — although they did let the animators make pseudo-feminist housewife Peggy progressively more curvaceous (a fact oft noted by Bill and Dale in one of their meandering in-character commentaries).

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