The first thing that gets you when you watch Duck Dynasty is the beards. These guys are serious about their facial hair. Phil and Si Robertson, along with Phil’s sons Jase and Willie have some of the most envied beards in the country.
From Christian recording artist David Crowder to the entirety of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, today’s American male is in love with beards. The longer and shabbier, the better. By that standard alone the Duck Dynasty guys are superstars.
There’s also the adolescent one-up-mans-ship that occupies every waking moment. It’s fun for those of us glued to the tv, watching with the same kind of fascination we have when we see a neighbor’s teen-aged children doing something we know is headed toward a train wreck. No he didn’t is my normal response to stuff the Robertsons do. Ping-pong in the company store to annoy Willie. Who can catch the most frogs. Destroying a beaver dam with a flame-thrower. Blowing up an old truck. On and on it goes—always a race, a spitting contest with each other. Call it Boys Go Wild.
But something almost always screws up. You can follow the plot (such as they are) of almost every episode and know that, in the end, something’s going to go wrong, misfire, be misunderstood and in general just not work like it was supposed to. All part of the fun.
Here’s something else. Men can be men on Duck Dynasty. They grow beards, wear cammies to work, shoot guns, kill animals, skin and eat them, blow things up, drive big trucks. No girly-men need apply. I’m surprised the ACLU hasn’t filed some sort of legal action against the show, claiming it’s offensive to all those sensitive souls that our nation seems to be producing more and more of.
Then there’s the business side. The Robertson clan is made up of serious business guys. They make money—a lot of money. Beginning with Phil’s original business hand-crafting the best-selling duck call of all time, “Duck Commander,” he and his family have built a corporate empire. When you add the income stream from their television show, these guys are rolling in dough. More power to them. Making money is no sin, and a success story like theirs is an encouragement to the rest of us.
The extended Robertson family is itself another reason we love to watch Duck Dynasty. Just seeing a multi-generational family getting along with each other without the sex, booze, hatred and violence that dominates most television is so refreshing that it seems like the show is a new world. It’s not. The sad fact is that the way the Robertsons live is the way we used to live a couple of generations ago. Families really did used to stay together and care more about one another than about themselves.
Most of all, we watch Duck Dynasty because of the Robertson’s faith. Not some touchy-feely kind of vague religion, but a robust and vibrant Christian faith fully lived out in home, work and church. A faith that ends every episode with the family gathered around a table loaded with food prepared by Miss Kay, the clan’s matriarch, while Phil offers a prayer for the blessings their family has received. A prayer that always ends in Jesus’ Name.
This odd collection of people has taken the country by storm. Duck Dynasty is the most successful cable-television show in history and shows no signs of slowing down. Its fourth season premier two months ago drew almost 12 million viewers. Hilarious factoid: the show even showed up in this week’s New York Magazine interview with United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia is the most influential conservative legal mind in the country whose rulings impact the nation more than any politician. When asked what television shows he watches he said what you’d expect him to say, that he doesn’t enjoy television at all. Then a long pause. Then he said, “Except for Duck Dynasty.”
They’re backwoods, redneck, gun-happy, Jesus-loving and as far from politically correct as you can be…and we love them.