Wednesday, September 11, 2013
"Duck Dynasty" the most popular Show on TV
Unlikely as it might seem, "Duck Dynasty" ... has managed to become the most popular reality program in cable history. The season premiere on Aug. 14 captured 11.8 million viewers, double the number that tuned in for the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" earlier that week.
Set in northeast Louisiana, "Duck Dynasty" follows the Robertsons, three generations of swamp-trawling, long-bearded duck-hunting enthusiasts who also happen to be millionaires. The entrepreneurs have built a business empire on duck-hunting gear and, especially, on duck calls made from Louisiana cedar.
The family patriarch is Phil Robertson, who, according to popular legend, was the first-string quarterback ahead of future NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech University. Mr. Robertson likens himself to Col. Sanders, having spent decades fashioning his patented duck calls before his company, Duck Commanders, took off. Phil's son Willie is the CEO of the family company and narrates much of the show's action. Willie's brother, Jase, and his Uncle Si are largely around for comic relief and their riffs on fishing and romance.
What separates "Duck Dynasty" from most reality shows is how quickly we see that the money hasn't gone to anyone's head. Early in the first season, Jase and Si Robertson happen upon two dead nutria rats in the middle of the road. In Louisiana, they explain, the state pays $5 for nutria tails because of the damage the rodents do to the marshes. The men pull over, Jase takes out his knife and cuts off their tails.
"Roadkill is a redneck's paycheck," he proclaims. "Just cause I got money in my pocket, that don't mean I'm too good to stop and pick up a five-dollar bill that's laying in the middle of the road."...
A major criticism of reality TV is the footage is edited to create better drama, often by making participants seem clumsier, more vapid or simply mean-spirited. In lesser hands, "Duck Dynasty" could easily be a carnival of deep-fried Louisiana caricatures. But much to the producers' credit, the characters seem in on the joke, and they remain their camo-wearing, Bible-toting selves anyway.
In that first episode, the bullfrog hunt leads to an exchange between Phil and his grandson Cole as Phil shows him how to chop and skin bullfrogs. Phil offers Cole what he calls "river rat counseling," which includes a warning not to "marry some yuppie girl" and to not fixate on a woman's appearance. "Find you a meek, gentle, kind-spirited country girl," Mr. Robertson says. "If she knows how to cook and carries her Bible and lives by it and she loves to eat bullfrogs, there's a woman."
Another "Duck Dynasty" theme centers on a family-wide disdain for technology, especially cellphones. But the Robertsons are generally skeptical of modern life. In one of the best moments of the series, Si Robertson imparts this piece of wisdom. "America, everyone is in too big of a rush," he offers. "Lay back, take a sip of tea, mow a little grass, and if you get tired, take ya a nap." Sure, it's sappy. But Si means it.
At the end of each episode, the entire family gathers for dinner, a meal prepared with much care by Phil's wife, Kay. Phil says grace as Willie narrates a lesson distilled from the events of the episode. However formulaic, it's both a tender family moment and a savvy way for the Robertsons to convey their values.
In an era when many American television shows are imported or adapted from programs created in other countries, "Duck Dynasty" is unabashedly American. The best news is that watching a real family driven by hard work and rooted in faith is apparently far more interesting to viewers than following the latest machinations of the "Real Housewives."
read full WSJ article HERE
check out the new book on the faith of the Robertson's HERE