King of the Hill: The Passion of the Dauterive
(S11E07) When I was attending high school in a small Iowa town, two people who worked at my church, each married to different people, had an affair that quickly became public knowledge. It's impossible to keep those things quiet in any small town, because they tend to be populated with people who feel everyone else's business is their own.
The relationship between Bill and his pastor in this episode wasn't as seedy as an extra-marital affair, but I couldn't help but notice some parallels. At my church, the woman who was having the affair was almost fired because of it, and Reverend Stroup's congregation does not respond well when she tells them she and and Bill are dating, either.
The thing is, had Stroup never said anything, there would have been no issue with her parishioners, who, like the members of my old church, wanted nothing more than the comfort that comes from everyone at least appearing to lead a "godly" lifestyle. Worse things were going on at the time at my church, including at least one pedophile in the choir, but his atrocities didn't take place out in the open, so no one focused on him. The animosity toward the people involved in the affair was never really about the affair itself, it was a response to having that veil of false perfection taken away.
What I loved about this episode is how it points out the absurd notion that by putting on your Sunday clothes and stepping into a church you lose everything that makes you human. When Stroup reads the sexy "Song of Solomon" passage, Hank becomes uncomfortable with the content, but I think that scene summed up at least one main point of the episode quite well: a person can be spiritual and still have the same human needs as anyone else.
No doubt it was because of the hypocrisy I had witnessed in my church all those years ago, but I found myself becoming quite angry with both the congregation and Hank in this episode. It was a good anger though, and I like that Hank is "real" enough for me to both love him and hate him in equal measure.
I must say though, the fact that Bill decided to break up with Stroup kind of surprised me. I understood why he did it, how it was more exciting when it was "forbidden," but he's always so desperately lonely I figured he'd be happy to have someone who loved him unconditionally. But like Hank, Bill's not so easy to pin down, and it's those complexities that draw me into this series every week and set it apart from other prime time animated fare.
I'm giving this one a 6 out of 7 for stirring up mixed emotions.