While fans prepare with anxious trepidation for the long-awaited return of the hit adult animated series King of the Hill, the series’ creators have been hard at work tweaking the show for a modern audience. According to a recent write-up in IGN, Greg Daniels, who co-created the show with Idiocracy filmmaker Mike Judge, is unsure if some characters from the original boundary-pushing run will make a reappearance. Specifically, Daniels mentioned the Hill’s neighbor, systems analyst Kahn Souphanousinphone, citing the character’s problematic casting.
The Casting Issue
Unlike other animated characters such as Jimmy Pesto in Bob’s Burgers or Rick and Morty from Rick And Morty, Kahn Souphanousinphone’s casting hasn’t courted controversy due to the actor’s legally or morally questionable extracurricular activities.
Kahn is voiced by The White House Plumbers actor Toby Huss in King of the Hill‘s original 1997-2010 run, and by all accounts, the actor is more than welcome to return to the upcoming reboot to reprise some of his many other voices. Instead, as Greg Daniels said in a recent interview, the issue lies with Huss, a white man, portraying a Laotian character with a thick accent.
Will The Character Return At All?
Daniels expressed concerns about bringing Khan back for the King of the Hill revival at all, but stressed that if the character does return, he’ll certainly be replaced with a Laotian voice actor, in order to respectfully represent the character and his culture.
This is an issue that has plagued many animated series in recent years, including The Simpsons, which recently recast a number of characters, including Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Dr. Julius Michael Hibbert, and Carl Carlson as part of a push for inclusion and diversity. Other animated shows, such as Bojack Horseman and Family Guy have been the subject of controversy for hiring white actors to bring Vietnamese or black characters to life.
Daniels also explained that Toby Huss’ casting was partially done out of budgetary desperation during King of the Hill‘s initial run, explaining that the show was unable to afford another voice actor when the character of Kahn Souphanousinphone was added to the roster. Instead of hiring someone new, the writers simply asked Huss, who was present to record lines as Hank’s father, Cotton Hill, to stand in as the additional character, without realizing Khan would go on to be an integral part of the series.
Will The Revival Be Accepted Today?
Additionally, King of the Hill was always known for pushing the envelope in regard to racial and gender stereotypes, presenting certain exaggerated character flourishes for comedy purposes. While the show used these exaggerations to inform and intrigue the viewer through a comedic lens, most audiences can agree that having a white actor speak in a thick and unnatural Asian accent wouldn’t go over quite as seamlessly today.
When Will New Episodes Release?
For now, the King of the Hill writers are still hard at work planning out the first few episodes of the upcoming revival, with no official confirmation as to whether Khan will return or not. According to Greg Daniels, the series likely won’t arrive on Hulu screens until at least 2025.