They’re bearded. They’re quotable. They’re camouflaged. They’re armed. They’re wildly popular. They are the Robertsons.
Unless you manage to completely avoid all media – other than New South Essays, of course – then you have probably seen or heard about the Robertson family. The pride of West Monroe, La., the Robertsons are self-proclaimed rednecks who have turned a duck call manufacturing business into one of the most popular reality shows on television.
We discovered the Robertsons last year when my dad turned us on to “Duck Dynasty” while it was still in its first season. Not typically an early adopter, Dad was on board from the beginning after finding their duck hunting show “Duck Commander” on the Outdoor Channel. It seems that while searching for his beloved fishing shows one day, he stumbled onto the wise-cracking Robertsons . Although he cared nothing for duck hunting, he found them so compelling he started watching.
The Robertsons then found an unlikely TV home on the Arts and Entertainment channel when they premiered in March 2012. A little more than a year later, “Duck Dynasty” is A&E’s highest rated program. Renewal for season four is currently on hold until new contracts can be negotiated. The Robertsons are reportedly seeking $200,000 per episode.
The season finale airs this week on April 24 to mark the end of the third season. I’m trying to figure out why “Duck Dynasty” has caught on in the New South like no other redneck reality show, and there are many.
So why are the Robertsons so popular?
Not since The Waltons has a TV family consistently shared a prayer of thanksgiving at meal times. The Robertsons end each episode with a blessing, pronounced by Phil, the patriarch. They are obviously people of faith with their involvement in their church featured regularly on the show.
They also demonstrate a strong commitment to their family. The brothers squabble and their Uncle Si is a foil to all their well-laid plans, but in the end, they embrace, pray and pass the victuals.
Conservative Christians gravitate to the Robertsons because they finally feel represented. A family with their general beliefs is on television, and they are drawn to them.
Truth is, there aren’t many shows that we watch as a family. The kids watch their typical fare of Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon or Disney Channel, but with “Duck Dynasty,” we can and want to watch together. There’s no cursing, and only the occasional expression of marital bliss between Phil and Kay can be considered “adult content.” It may be gross, but there’s a lot worse on television than an affectionate older married couple showing that their love still burns brightly.
My wife, Carla, fully admits to enjoying the segments of the show that include the younger Robertsons’ wives and children. She particularly likes seeing their homes, their choices in clothing, and how they parent their children, who just happen to be a mix of biological and adopted. She is fascinated by these beautiful, thin, well-coifed women and what drew them to their redneck husbands. Photos are circulating online that prove under their massive beards there are men who were once handsome enough to woo these lovely women.
Despite all these reasons for watching, the real reason for their success is that they are funny. We never fail to laugh when watching the Robertsons. I’m not so naïve as to think everything that happens is unplanned, but even with a sense that scenarios may be contrived, I can’t help but giggle.
Uncle Si trying to earn enough tickets at a local pizza arcade to win a stuffed purple gorilla is funny. Godwin, a co-worker at the duck call plant, shirtlessly scurrying across a path on all fours to see if he resembles a panther from a distance is funny. Willie and Jase taking their wives hunting and Korie dousing herself in doe urine is funny. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
“Duck Dynasty” may not be everyone’s blue Tupperware cup of iced tea, but the Robertsons have become heroes to a segment of the population that can’t find many in the media these days. We can debate whether or not they are role models, but you cannot deny they are trending.
It remains to be seen how many seconds are left on their 15 minutes of fame, but when the season finale airs Wednesday, as Si would say, “I’m down like a rodeo clown, Jack!”
What’s your take on the Robertsons? Do you watch and laugh out loud or do you cringe and avoid them like the plague? If you are a fan, what are your reasons? Leave a comment and make us “happy, happy, happy.”