Like millions of Americans, I’ve become a “Duck Dynasty” fan.
“Duck Dynasty,” as you surely are aware, is an A&E reality show that presents the Robertson clan, the long-bearded owners and operators of Duck Commander in West Monroe, La. Duck Commander hand-makes duck calls.
The story is a rags-to-riches one.
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, started his duck-call business some 25 years ago. The avid outdoorsman was dissatisfied with the duck calls that were then available, so he made his own.
He did about $8,000 in revenue his first year, but slowly built up the business over the next few decades, hiring a lot of relatives along the way.
His son, Willie, took over the company and has grown it to a $45 million annual business - one that has made the Robertson family mighty wealthy. They were wealthy before “Duck Dynasty” became a hit cable show that draws record-breaking numbers of viewers.
Many media critics have been speculating as to why the show is so popular — and some, such as “Rolling Stone,” say the show and the characters are nothing but a big con. As usual, so many in the media are getting it exactly wrong.
It’s true that each episode is scripted and staged with fairly typical sitcom plots. But what is also true is that the Robertsons are totally authentic characters.
There are Phil and Kay’s three bearded sons, who all work at Duck Commander, their wives and kids and, of course, Uncle Si, a gray-bearded Army veteran who is daggone colorful and funny.
These people are unapologetically religious. They believe that when you marry, you really do become one flesh. Their families are intact and functional, and the show celebrates these simple values.
The characters are politically incorrect and unapologetic about that, too. They happily go into the woods to shoot, skin and cook their dinner.