Duck Dynasty was on top of the heap. Of all the reality shows about millionaire duck hunting families, it was the king. It was the Number One reality TV show in cable history.
Then Phil Robertson did an interview in GQ Magazine. The piece is old news now, but just take a moment and remember where you were when you first heard that the long-bearded patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan had done an interview in GQ.
In said interview, Robertson said some things that alienated, offended, and disgusted many people.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Perhaps Phil thought he could be just as comfortable speaking his mind with a GQ writer as he was in front of the cameras for his own show, forgetting that there was no editing team, forgetting that GQ readers are, by and large, not his tribe. It is highly unlikely that those offended were die hard members of his fan base. But the hammer came down nonetheless.
After a highly-publicized bit of blowback, Robertson was suspended from his own show. Then his fans rallied the troops, and he was asked back after only nine days suspension. It looked like the gravy train was back on track for Robertson and family. After that outpouring of fan support, things were likely better than ever. Or so most thought.
The numbers tell a different tale. Last year, the folks at Nielsen said that Duck Dynasty had about 12 million viewers. Now, seven months after the GQ kerfluffle, they have only about one-third of that audience. Even the season premiere was way down.
Where did everyone go? One theory is that it is no longer popular in mixed company to say you watch Duck Dynasty. Sure, the guys sporting ZZ Top beards and wearing camo to walk around the mall aren’t going anywhere. But folks who may have been watching the show at its peak, but don’t want their friends to think they are homophobes, they’re long gone.
Of course, there is still the merchandise licensing. All those Duck Dynasty t-shirts, ball caps, beef jerky, and other such paraphernalia that netted the Dynasty team $400 million last year are still there. There is the possibility that they may lose some if they get the losing end of a lawsuit over one of their catchphrases. But there’s still a lot of money coming.
A&E says they already have the next season of Duck Dynasty in the can. And they are considering spinoffs, which is where many reality shows come from.
Maybe Phil killed the goose/duck that laid the golden eggs, but they piled up a lot of eggs before he did.
Image via YouTube