Now that I’ve actually seen a few episodes, “Duck Dynasty” is relatively harmless entertainment. Whatever “reality TV” means, it’s definitely not that. It’s a semi-scripted sitcom, basically cornball self-parody. Think “Hee Haw” without the music. I find it utterly inane, but then I don’t watch TV with children.
The “tell” is the show’s women, cute Southern sorority girls turned mommies. In real life, no way would those women tolerate their “menfolk” running around looking like a truckload of ZZ-Top impersonators. They’re also not going on TV with hay in their hair like some Hollywood director’s idea of a country girl. Every comedy needs a straight man; on “Duck Dynasty” it’s the women.
But realism? Please. The beards, hair and overalls are costumes every bit as theatrical as the outfits the Rolling Stones wear onstage. In the rural Arkansas county where I live, you could hang around the feed store for a month without seeing anybody like “Duck Dynasty” “patriarch” (and head bigot) Phil Robertson. And if you did, his wife wouldn’t have any teeth.
The Robertsons are country-clubbers posing as rednecks. Duck hunting itself — requiring, as it does, quite a bit of expensive gear and pricey leases — is mainly a rich man’s pastime in the South. Deer hunting makes economic sense; duck hunting’s a luxury. It’s what doctors, lawyers and bankers do when the weather’s too lousy for golf. Bill Clinton used to go duck hunting once a year to prove he loved guns.
(My own most recent — and final — duck hunting trip began with me tasked with lugging an outboard motor across a muddy soybean field at 5:30 a.m. Never again.)
But I digress. Although many Southerners wince at yokel stereotypes, the basic “Duck Dynasty” joke is that every redneck is a Peter Pan at heart. The Robertson men spend their time bickering like children and making mischief with pickup trucks, ATVs, shotguns, handguns, deer rifles, chainsaws, outboard motors, dynamite, etc. Basically anything that makes loud noises and/or throws mud around.