“Hank’s Unmentionable Problem” is the 6th episode of the 1st season of King of the Hill. I won’t be blowing anybody’s mind when I say that the first season of this show is a bit weaker than many of the other’s, first seasons often are. Typically after the first season, some shifts will happen in the characters or even the tone of the show. Certain interactions and relationships will undergo changes based on audience reactions, etc. King of the Hill’s changes weren’t as drastic as some shows, but it did come more into its own and developed its style a bit more. Still, despite not being the best season, there are some great episodes, and we do see the foundation for a lot of things, some really emphasized later on, some less so. This episode is one of the funnier ones from the first season to me, and one I am more inclined to go back and watch from the earlier season.
A warning, the problem is referred to as “unmentionable” for a reason. I won’t get graphic, but it is gross.
The episode starts with Peggy reminding Hank to flush the toilet, to which he replies it is not necessary and that it hasn’t been for a little while. Peggy wants to discuss it, but Hank, of course, refuses. We get a lot of interplay of Peggy attempting to be her “helpful” self, albeit with good reason to be pushy this time. This is countered by Hank’s absolute refusal to discuss, acknowledge, or do anything to address the problem. This includes but isn’t limited to Hank ordering a whole heck of a lot of meat from a buffet, and when Peggy suggests a vegetable, he gets mac and cheese.
Less helpful from Peggy is her talking to people about the issue, and soon enough, everybody in the area, including complete strangers to Hank, seem to know and wants to give Hank advice. As things get worse, Hank slowly starts to try a few of the suggestions, but nothing seems to help, and people are getting more involved.
Defeated, embarrassed, and pressured by Peggy, Hank finally goes to the doctor. Despite what the episode is about, for the most part, there is little that is actually that gross in this episode. The doctor’s visit is kind of the notable exception. It’s not bad, but you can fill in the blanks of what they do.
The doctor can’t see what is wrong and says that they will have to do exploratory surgery if Hank doesn’t go to the bathroom soon. To avoid that, Hank finally gives in to all of Peggy’s suggestions. What follows is a fairly sad montage of Hank not enjoying things and being denied pleasures. Nancy expresses shock that Hank agreed to such drastic lifestyle changes, to which Peggy says he didn’t, that she forced him. She starts to realize that she’s pulled Hank away from the things he loves out of fear at the same time that Hank reaches his breaking point.
Hank confronts her that he is not giving up the things he enjoys in life at the same time Peggy apologizes for making him try. She is just scared at the idea of losing him, to which Hank says he won’t let that happen. They have a rather affectionate moment, which is a rarity for the couple, and Hank’s problem suddenly is… no more.
Aside from this being a funny episode, it is an interesting introduction to the characters. While they are more fleshed out, the foundation of who they are is clear. Present is Peggy’s overbearing – even when well-intentioned – nature, the neighborhood’s gossiping, Bobby being more open and casual with things than Hank would like, and Hank’s uptight and unmoving (pun not intended, but noted) nature. While all of these things shift and move a little with age and the show coming into its own, it really is a good snapshot of how close they were to getting it just right, even from the start.
It’s also, again, just hilarious. Hank’s food choices as this is happening crack me up. I also love how involved everyone in the neighborhood becomes. They all have ideas, from Dale’s squatting to Boomhauer and his girlfriend, who has never met Hank, telling him to go swimming a whole bunch.
The episode also has great jokes unrelated to the overall plot, something that wasn’t always present in later episodes. One part that gets me every time is Bobby getting into an elevator and pressing every button only for a woman who is in the process of giving birth and really close to get on. The audience only gets the noises of the elevator dinging for every floor and then the expected… it’s a great way to present a joke, and kills me.
All in all, it’s less emotionally involved than some episodes. We don’t have much in the way of development other than Peggy and Hank both accepting the same thing, that Hank needs to live his life, from the two different perspectives. It won’t tug at you like “Good Hill Hunting,” and while hilarious is not as funny as “A Firefighting, We Will Go.” It is solid, though, and amusing, again, especially for a weaker season.
So bottom line? If you are looking for random episodes to watch instead of a full watch-through, I would put this on the list. There are some good picks from the first season that really help the audience to get introduced to the characters and/or see how they later changed. I don’t re-watch a lot of the first season, but this one makes it on the re-watch list pretty often. It’s decently funny, a good look at the show from the early stages as far as what changed and didn’t. It’s not my favorite, but it’s decent and gives me more than a few chuckles.
If you like my Impressions, then consider signing up for my Patreon! Each month I share an exclusive Impressions piece there, and you can find other of my works/writing! Thank you so much! https://www.patreon.com/meganezombi