Deconstructed TV: King of the Hill – Peggy Hill
Let’s start this blog with one of my favorite shows of all time. A show that I still watch this very day— King of the Hill. The first episode that I consciously remember as a kid was the one where Hank and Peggy go out for a date night and forget to pick up their son, Bobby from the mall. My favorite line from the episode comes from Bobby as he is outside of a convenience store, contacting his parents: “…I’m watching prostitutes buy pantyhose!” Upon learning where her son is, Peggy runs out of the restaurant’s nearest emergency exit, setting off a ringing alarm and leaving her husband sitting at the table.
This is one of my favorite Peggy Hill moments because of her quick parental-instinct to save her son from possible danger. This moment stands out for another reason as well, in this show Peggy is often self-centered. She believes that she is the best at everything, that no one can do things the way she can, and that she can do no wrong. There is plenty of comedy in a character like that and it makes her memorable within such as cast of characters, but it’s good to see another side to Peggy.
She spends the rest of the episode trying to make things right with Bobby, recognizing that she has wronged him. She feels guilty for having enjoyed herself so much on the date night that she lost track of time, forgetting to pick up her one and only child. This is very relatable and serves well in the purpose of making Peggy a more well-rounded character.
Though, the way she goes about squaring things is very classic “Peggy Hill” and I love this as well! She shifts the blame squarely to her husband, Hank. She lets Bobby know that it was his father’s fault that they were late. If Hank hadn’t had ordered such a decadent, time-consuming dessert, she never would have been late picking up Bobby. She also makes her son a big breakfast and becomes more lenient on the rules. She wants to make sure that she is the parent that is liked, and she has no problem throwing Hank under the bus to ensure her forgiveness.
In this classic Peggy moment, we are shown what could be considered as the root of her character profile on the show. She will do whatever it takes to succeed and to be seen favorably in her own eyes or the eyes of others. Within the series, this includes everything from mistakenly kidnapping a Mexican girl while leading a school field trip to Mexico and then attempting to smuggle her back into her country (and defending herself in what she thinks is perfect Spanish), pretending the neighbor’s child is her adopted daughter in order to be successful in a real estate sale; purporting to be knowledgeable about household cleaning tips in order to gain a job at the local newspaper and almost causing the city to be covered in homemade mustard gas; going from city to city in an attempt to win a blood donor bet with her neighbor, Minh, to the point where she can hardly stand or raise her arm.
Peggy is anything but a boring character, which is a thing that could be said for any character in King of the Hill. It is one of the few shows where each character is so distinctive and comical in their own way, while still retaining a realistic feel to their personalities. I feel like we all have met a Peggy Hill somewhere in our lives. Maybe not as exaggerated or as extreme as her, but that person that assumes they can do no wrong and that their way is absolutely the best way.
I must admit that as kid, Peggy was my least favorite character in this show. I’d somewhat roll my eyes if it were a Peggy episode. I viewed her as the misguided lady that always thinks she’s right. And I can’t say that I was wrong in that description of her, but I was missing all the nuisances behind who Peggy is. As misguided as she may be, she is a person trying her best to be the greatest: mother, teacher, journalist, real estate agent, etc. And it all seems to stem back to a childhood where I don’t think she was ever told she was the best at anything. She is a woman trying to prove herself and shouting out into the void: “I am worthy of acknowledgement!” and I can appreciate that.
Erica Jasmin Dixon (she/her) is a writer, actress, and artist based in Houston, TX and originally from Raeford, NC. She holds an MFA degree from Queens University of Charlotte with specializations in fiction and stage & screen writing. Her creative work has appeared literary publications such as I-70 Review, For Women Who Roar, and Southern Humanities Review.