Duck Dynasty, the A&E reality/comedy show about a wealthy Christian fundamentalist family, slipped in viewers in its fifth season premiere Jan. 15, down 28 percent from its previous season opener last August.
A 28 percent drop is a sizeable number, but the show still pulled in 8.5 million viewers — far above what is normally seen on a cable TV show. The show even beat Modern Family for the night, and that plays on the ABC network and it one of the top programs on TV today.
Critics will be quick to blame the drop in viewers on cast member Phil Robertson, known just as “Phil,” the grandfather patriarch of the family, who said in an interview with GQ magazine that he believed that gays and lesbians “are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless.” It is tempting to find Phil’s comment offensive, but then we have also seen RuPaul’s Drag Race and it’s hard to deny that some of those bitches check a lot of those boxes.
Although Phil probably should just keep his opinions to himself. He also compared gay sex to bestiality, said gays would burn in hell, questioned why a man would want to put his penis in another man’s anus, all the typical drivel we’ve heard before. Then another interview also surfaced from a few years past in which he recommended men marry girls who are 15 or 16, because they make better wives at that age. So he’s at least proving himself to be a well-rounded creep, and perhaps not a person anyone should take seriously.
Nevertheless, his comments were made in the public arena, so it’s all out there and we have to deal with it. He may have had an impact on viewers and contributed to the drop in ratings. It’s also possible that viewers don’t really care what the world’s leading expert on duck hunting supplies thinks about anything, and they are leaving Duck Dynasty simply because the show has run its course. With story lines that are obviously staged and dialogue that is recited almost as awkwardly as making people talk to their real family members, the novelty of these “reality” shows wears thin quickly.
After Phil’s comments unfortunately were made known, A&E network executives originally planned to cut Phil from the show. But after his family hinted they would all quit in return, Phil was reprimanded with just a slap on the wrist and the show carried on, proving that TV executives worry nothing about setting a good example for the public, and being a decent human being matters only when it doesn’t cause anyone to lose money. God bless America. In exchange for keeping Phil in front of the Duck Dynasty cameras, executives at A&E promise to program content promoting diversity and tolerance. Perhaps that new direction will include more with Uncle Si, who seems to be a lot more fun than “stick in the mud” Phil.