King of the Hill: The Texas Panhandler
(S10E13) I've never quite understood the allure of buying clothing that has been made to look faded, torn, and worn out before you even have the chance to wear them out naturally. Keeping my T-shirts from cracking and fading used to frustrate the heck out of me, and now they're selling them that way. I guess the lesson is never underestimate the American consumer's ignorance and desire to conform, especially if they happen to be in high school.
In last night's episode, Bobby and Joseph want desperately to be invited to a popular girl's party. They think if they could just get an awesome pair of pre-faded jeans they'll be cool enough to get an invite. Hank refuses to buy the jeans for Bobby, since he, like myself, thinks they're asinine. He tells Bobby that if he had a job and earned his own money, he would be his own man and able to purchase whatever he wanted. Bobby gets a job holding arrows on a street corner for available apartments, and demonstrates his new skills at the breakfast table: 'Where's the kitchen? Why, it's over there.'
After being ridiculed while performing their new job by the popular kids they so desperately want "in" with, Bobby and Joseph take some advice from a group of twentysomethings with obvious visible means of support who convince the kids to stop doing actual work and just beg for money on the street like they do. These aren't obvious homeless people with a real need, but loafers who yak on cell phones and buy hoodies for their dog with the money people give them. As much as this horrifies Hank when he finds out about it, it's exactly what Bobby and Joseph need to gain the popularity they've been desiring. To quote a line from the band the Silver Jews, "When you're fifteen you want to look poor." Bobby and Joseph get invited to the party not because they work hard and earn money (what rich, popular kid would respect that?) but because they leech off of other people, and that's downright awesome.
A great episode, I thought, though I also thought maybe Bobby was slightly out of character for this episode. I've always liked that Bobby did his best to stand out from the crowd, often risking humiliation just to make his classmates laugh. In this episode his feverish desire to be accepted by the popular kids seemed a little out of place. Then again, the characters on King of the Hill have a depth and complexity not found in other primetime, animated offerings, so the idea of Bobby being blinded by the pre-faded, pre-torn popularity of his fellow students added a nice touch of realism to the episode. It's just too bad that given the timeslot, most people probably didn't catch the episode, save for those who caught the last few minutes when they sat down to catch The Simpsons.