For a culture that relishes dystopia and empathizes with antiheroes, “Duck Dynasty,” shouldn’t be as popular is it is.
Willie Robertson, an important member on the reality show and CEO of the “Duck Commander” duck call business, doesn’t cook methamphetamine. His family is functional, and he certainly doesn’t abandon his coworkers to the Neo-Nazis.
Yet the “Duck Dynasty” season 4 premiere’s 11.8 million viewers surpassed “Breaking Bad’s” season 5 finale’s 10.4 million viewers.
Unlike a large portion of popular television, “Duck Dynasty” promotes an overarching sense of happiness. It emphasizes the heart, hilarity and humanity of the Robertson family from the backwoods of West Monroe, Louisiana.
“I watch Duck Dynasty because not only is it funny, but it also promotes good values,” junior Courtney Purdin said. “It’s one of the few reality shows where they [the people featured] actually are genuine.”
The Robertsons founded the multi-million dollar “Duck Commander” business in 1972. Together, Willie, two of his brothers, uncle and friends manufacture duck calls and decoys. Some of the show takes place around the office, but the majority is spent on the other excursions and events surrounding Willie’s family and friends.
While some episodes include duck hunts, fishing, turtle collecting or even photo shoots, a surprise wedding in the fourth season brings to light the contrast between Duck Dynasty and other reality shows depicting similar events.
The wedding was held for Willie’s parents, Phil and Kay Robertson, to renew their vows. Willie’s wife, Korie, led the planning for the wedding in collaboration with other family and friends.
Before breaking into what happened with the “Duck Dynasty” wedding itself, consider the fact that there are a multitude of other shows wallowing in negative drama surrounding weddings. One of these include “Bridezillas,” in which tears, screams and meltdowns are the norm. The show’s website even advertises its season finale as “with only one episode left, Willara’s meltdown will be one for the books.”
Other wedding reality shows tend to follow the “Bridezillas” model, creating a conception that, when it comes to reality TV weddings, the focus of the show isn’t about the happiness of a wedding, but the conflict stemming from the details.
In contrast, the “Duck Dynasty” wedding did not have the drama between angry wedding planners or overreacting brides.
It was about the teamwork of Korie and the other Robertson women, the humor of the men who wanted to fish instead of help prepare and the success of the wedding itself.
At the end of the episode, Phil and Kay were lead into a decorated clearing in the woods. Lights, flowers, vines and antlers decorated the wedding arch. Their smiling family and friends sat on hay bales during the ceremony and the episode concluded with the wedding guests dancing in the candlelight.
While “Duck Dynasty” promotes harmony, family and happiness, a secondary factor in its success is the humor.
“My friends that watch it are all obsessed because they think it’s funny,” Sophomore Cheyanne Schaefer said. “I think they just mainly like the jokes that are made on the show.”
Si Robertson, Willie’s uncle, delivers the majority of the jokes. Si is a Vietnam veteran with unparalleled commitment and stubbornness in the defense of his own ideas. Generally, his humor is clean and random—he’s said things like “Rolo’s are for golos not you bozos” or “your beard is so hairy, even Dora can’t explore it.”
Si isn’t alone in providing “Duck Dynasty’s” humor—the rest of the family does as well—but the humor help create a positive tone for the overarching theme of the series. Happiness, whether it’s from a duck hunt, wedding or even a mason jar full of sweet tea, is the most important aspect of life.
It’s this happiness that attracts 11.8 million viewers to “Duck Dynasty.” Beyond the camo gear and beards, the fact that, as Uncle Si puts it, the Robertsons are “Happy happy happy” makes “Duck Dynasty” worth watching.