Gender norms and King of The Hill

King of the hill is a animated comedy show centered around Hank Hill and his family. Hank’s relationship with his son Bobby is a frequent source of comedy on the show. Hank, a man’s man whose interests include football and propane, is often at a loss when it comes to dealing with Bobby due to his own discomfort with emotions (his own and those of others) and Bobby’s quirky personality.

Bobby’s “girly” aspects often prove the most worrying to Hank. Bobby likes dolls (troll dolls in particular), listens to boy bands, enrolls in home economics instead of shop, and takes up rose gardening at one point. He also squeals like a girl.

In one episode, Hank takes Bobby to the local YMCA so he can take boxing classes to help him deter bullies. Upon finding the boxing classes closed, Bobby goes to a women’s self defense class where he learns to kick attackers in the testicles while yelling “That’s my purse! I don’t know you!” and uses the technique to deter and eventually strike fear in the hearts of the bullies. Hank finds out about it and is horrified that Bobby took women’s self defense and has kicked bullies “in the fellas”. Hank himself falls to Bobby’s groin kick while trying to teach Bobby how to “fight like a man”.

King of The Hill utilizes Hank and Bobby’s awkward relationship as a source of comedy. This awkwardness stems from Hank’s rigid views on what is “normal” for a boy clashing with Bobby’s bizarre, often feminine behavior.


About jw320

I'm from Yorktown and I'm a history major. I never know what to write in these things.
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4 Responses to Gender norms and King of The Hill

  1. jsmar002 says:

    I love King of the Hill. Especially, Bobby and Hanks relationship. The Women’s Self-defense class is one of my favorites. Another good episode for this topic, was the one when Hank and Bobby join the Father-son shooting tournament. It was one of few times on the show when Hank & Bobby find common ground. The only reason they found something in common was because over a manly event. This was probably the one time when Bobby was better than hank at something deemed masculine and the one time Hank probably fell like less of a man and father.

  2. jw320 says:

    I like that episode a lot as well. It also shows the way Hank’s father Cotton damaged him and the effects it has on his own parenting style.

  3. These examples are really hilarious but I don’t know this show very well. Are there other parent/child relationships with other characters in King of the Hill that also speak to the issue of gender norms?

  4. jw320 says:

    Not really. Hank and Bobby’s relationship is the one most explored on the show. Gender issues are touched on in other episodes, but Hank and Bobby is the only one that carries on throughout the series.

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