I confess. It’s Wednesday, and that means tonight in a bit, I’ll turn television on and land on A&E for the evening. It’s Duck Dynasty day. I can get my fix of one of my secret pleasures.
Yes, I am a fan of Duck Dynasty. Unlike other reality programs, this one has something that rings true to me. I know that some people don’t like it; they see the Robertson clan as a bunch of dumb rednecks. Well, I have to differ. Rednecks? Yes, as they are proud to say. Dumb? I don’t think so.
I’m sure that some of the storylines are scripted, to a degree. But I don’t think that scripted lines sound quite so true if the people delivering them have no sense of their meaning. For me, part of what is so funny about Duck Dynasty is that there is a bit of an edge, a dry wit that rings true. These are not actors.
Okay, I know I have friends who will disagree. I just don’t think they’re right.
These folks appear to me to be fully aware of the stereotypes that they’re plugged into by the show; they’re aware of those and use them. It’s this self-awareness that sets them apart from other shows with rednecks, or hillbillies, or whatever stereotypes (especially rural ones) that are being exploited.
Their humor is quirky — and delivered with a sense of just how those lines will sound.
Having grown up in the same region, I must say that yes, I know people like this, who are proudly “country” and “redneck.” Yet these are men and women who went to college, graduated, created and continue to run successful businesses. That they also hunt and fish and (as Phil proclaims) “live off the land” is part of their lives.
They’ve lived real lives. Phil and Kay married very young. Their marriage survived Phil’s drinking days. They’ve been poor. They’re also not poor now. Willie, the son who has become CEO, is clearly a really sharp businessman. And his wife has been part of the success, as the wives of the other brothers involved in the business have been.
The brothers might live in much more exclusive neighborhoods, in much more expensive houses, than they grew up in. But their core values, it appears, remain unchanged. “God, family, guns.” That’s how they revise the slogan usually attached to the show on posters and the like, rather than “Guns. . .”