Yep, I’m going there (here?). If you haven’t caught A&E’s latest gem, Duck Dynasty, you need to check it out. If you’ve seen Duck Dynasty and can’t imagine why I would write a blog post about it…well, bear with me. I’ve talked to quite a few people about this show. Responses are about half and half: 50% or so think it’s really funny, and 50% or so couldn’t get through an entire episode. A few seem mystified by it and have watched an entire episode but do not in any way seem inclined to watch it again. I think most that I have talked to would agree that their appreciation for the show doesn’t come close to matching mine.
If you haven’t seen the show, here’s a brief overview of the premise. The show is reality TV about Phil Robertson, a man from Louisiana who “revolutionized” the duck call. [Duck calls are little whistle-like instruments. When a person blows into a duck call, it makes a sound like a duck. Duck calls are used by hunters to lure ducks to their demise.] Phil’s company “Duck Commander” is a multi-million dollar business that has since been taken over by his son, Willie. Other people on the show include Phil’s brother, Si; Phil’s wife, Miss Kay; Willie’s wife, Korie; Willie’s brother Jase; and Phil and Miss Kay’s other sons, their wives, and all the grandchildren.
So what is it about this show that I enjoy so much? And why in the world do I think it’s beneficial as anything more than entertainment? Here’s what I think:
Authenticity: The Robertsons are very clear about who they are. They make no bones about their identity as a family that hunts, fishes, wears camouflage, eats squirrels, builds duck blinds, and loves one another. There is nothing about this family that says nouveau riche. They still do all the same things they did before they had lots of money. They just do them bigger. How many other reality shows focus on people staying true to their roots, rather than trying to be something they’re not? The Robertsons have grown and learned along the way, but they don’t hide where they come from (and in truth, they haven’t ever left). How many of us can say that we genuinely own our background, even the parts that aren’t pretty? How often do you pretend to be something you’re not because it’s what others expect of you?
Audacity: Admittedly, it is easy to be audacious when you have tons and tons of money. The Robertsons never hesitate to be audacious and put a new spin on something. Just this season, Miss Kay made a cooking DVD and attempted to open a restaurant. Willie bought a vineyard. Jase (Willie’s brother) constructed the world’s largest duck call (Guinness was there – they set the record). They took an old RV and made a duck blind out of it and stuck it 20 feet up in a tree. Their ideas may not always pan out, and they typically don’t make much sense, but the family never ceases to try. I’m sure one of those audacious ideas was the one that made them millionaires. How often do you go out on a limb and embrace a truly audacious idea that could revolutionize your field?
Loyalty: The Robertsons are truly a family that is loyal to one another. They bicker and argue and drive one another crazy, like any family. However, at the end of the day it’s clear that they love one another and nothing will ever change that. There is nothing you can do that will get you thrown out of the Robertson family, and there’s something old-fashioned and charming about that. While many talk about “family values”, I think the Robertsons are living it in a way many would overlook. Who are your family members? Are you loyal to them no matter what? Who are the people that you would go to bat for regardless of what you had to gain or lose from the situation?
Joy: Again, I’m sure this is easier to do when you have tons of money, but WOW do they all have fun on this show. When they are at work, they are doing something that they love. When they are out hunting or fishing, they are doing something that they love. They don’t let work interfere with the things that they love. I just really love watching people that are out there having a good time. When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it? Not because of an obligation, or to get ahead at work, or to make someone else happy – but just because it was fun?
So that’s why I love Duck Dynasty, and why I’m going to keep watching it (at least until they cease to be authentic, audacious, loyal, and fun-loving.)