After years of close calls, King of the Hill gets canceled
King of the Hill, the second-longest-running animated series after The Simpsons, was handed its death warrant by Fox recently. The network ordered one more season of the show before it was canceled, with its final episodes set to air in the 2009-2010 season.The show debuted in January 1997 just before the height of the Clinton hysteria, with a quaint Texas family led by Hank Hill, the quintessential everyman who tries to navigate contemporary suburban life in the southern tip of the heartland. Ten years later, Time ranked it as one of the 100 best TV series of all time.
Although it had the format of a typical half-hour sitcom, its unlikely realism and sociological reach (one of its creators is Mike Judge) turned many heads outside of regular television commentary. “The important thing here is that Hank Hill may be a Texan, but he and his friends could live in any of the fast-developing rural and exurban areas around Columbus or Phoenix or Atlanta that are bound to become the political weathervanes of the new century,” Matt Bai wrote in The New York Times Magazine of the show’s political reach.
King of the Hill was lucky to last as long as it did considering cancellation rumors have been around for years, but the news seems especially bittersweet on the eve of a presidential election often predicated on the whims of white, blue-collar voters. Even if Hank won’t be around for the next election, his surprising cultural influence certainly will.
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