Solving the Duck Dynasty mystery
by D.C. Innes
Duck Dynasty, a reality TV show about self-proclaimed rednecks from Louisiana who made a fortune selling duck calls and yet occasionally still kill and eat squirrels for dinner, drew 11.8 million viewers (including the Innes family) to the airing of the premiere episode of its fourth season on A&E two weeks ago. That is the largest audience on cable ever for a non-fiction series, and a much larger audience than for Jersey Shore, the closest Northeastern equivalent. The mystery is … why? Other shows feature strange people who dwell in rural settings (Swamp’d, Call of the Wildman).
Well, for one thing, it’s funny. Willie is the straight man, the bearded boss with the bandana trying to get a serious day’s work out of his mostly blood-related crew. Uncle Si is the clown. You never know what will come out of his mouth, and his malapropisms are classic comedy fare.
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It’s also endearing. Phil and Kay are the love story, especially touching as they have been married 47 years. (The centerpiece of the season 4 premiere was the renewing of their wedding vows.) They are all people you would be happy to know, and yet they are all real people living in a real community.
Americans like people who are different, and the Robertsons are certainly that. But we also like people we can relate to. (The show is broadcast in Europe, but there it is something like watching Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet.) The program is not about ducks; it’s about the dynasty. It’s about family, and we all have family, though not always the family life we wish we had…
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