“Duck Dynasty” is the one – and only – TV reality-show that I watch.
There, I’ve said it. I’ve disclosed to the well educated, culturally urbane, theologically moderate and social justice minded readers of EthicsDaily.com my “redneck” roots, comfort with guns and hunting, and simple piety.
At the other extreme, I also watch “Downton Abbey,” a TV show about an aristocratic British family at the turn of the 20th century who face the profound changes in technology – electricity, telephones and automobiles – and the radical changes in culture – the role of women, empire politics and employment. But my commentary on “Downton Abbey” is reserved for another day.
Return with me to a pro-traditional family TV show in which all the men have beards and wear camouflage clothing. It’s a show where not a word of profanity is heard and where no promiscuity is seen.
Not made for TV, right?
“Duck Dynasty” has been referred to as “A&E’s monster hit.”
During its third season, the final episode had 9.6 million viewers. That is, 4.3 percent of the 126,540,000 American adults between the ages of 18-49 with a TV in the house watched the show.
“That rating makes Duck Dynasty the highest-rated show last night – and not just on cable. The number is bigger than CBS’ Survivor (2.9) and bigger than Fox’s American Idol (3.3). As you can see, the fight wasn’t even close,” reported Entertainment Weekly.
Well, what is it that is likeable about this show?
What first grabbed my attention was that each episode ended with the patriarch of the family praying at the dinner table. It was a simple, Christian prayer of gratitude to God for his goodness and for family.
Given all the TV shows that ridicule religion, mock marital fidelity, celebrate promiscuity, peddle soft porn, parade potty-mouth dialogue and wallow in consumerism, I never thought that I would see a TV show with the simple piety of prayer at the family dinner table or one that honored the traditional family.
Don’t get me wrong. These aren’t Bible thumpers. They aren’t self-righteous politicos with an anti-everything agenda.
Nope, they are ordinary Louisiana folk who live out their Christian faith – albeit sometimes in squirrelly ways – at least squirrelly for urbanites and cultural accommodationists.
They readily admit their mistakes. They question the behaviors of their kin and poke fun at themselves.
The show centers on three generations of the Robertson family – and some of their employees and friends.
The patriarch, Phil, turned duck calls into a multi-million dollar business that is now run by his oldest son.
In one episode, the grandmother shared at a bowling alley the do’s and don’ts of dating with her grandchildren. Wholesome advice.
In the final episode, Si, the tongue-tied, historically challenged and wacky uncle, shared that he had watched by mistake an R-rated movie.
“I saw this movie about a teddy bear and it was real bad,” said Si. “What is this world coming to when we can’t even count on teddy bears to give us wholesome entertainment? Hey, he was cussin’ and doing drugs and junk.”
Si’s nephew, Jase replied, “Just because it’s about a teddy bear coming to life doesn’t mean it’s a family-friendly movie.”
The Robertsons are practicing Christians who belong to White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La.
According to the Tennessean, they are hot commodities on the speaking circuit.
They recently sold out three shows at Lipscomb University, a university affiliated with the Church of Christ, reported the Nashville newspaper. They receive some 600 speaking invitations a day from diverse denominational sources.
“Duck Dynasty” will not be everyone’s glass of sweet ice tea. But if you are channel surfing across the barren wilderness of TV in search of escape or entertainment after a long day at work, give “Duck Dynasty” a look.
You’ll get a few chuckles. And you will not be embarrassed or offended by the profanity, promiscuity and hatefulness that dominates so many shows.
You’ll get a good message that no matter what has happened during the day, some families still give thanks to God.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.