The Robertsons should be feeling “Happy, Happy, Happy” right now, considering that their hit show “Duck Dynasty” is about to become the most watched reality and cable TV show of all time and that they successfully negotiated a six-figure per episode salary during their recent contract negotiations with A&E. Yet for all of the show’s focus on traditional family values, conservatives continue to lose the cultural war with everyday Americans.
Could this show, about a backwoods Louisiana family that made millions selling handmade duck whistles, finally be the turning point the conservative movement needs to take back the culture struggle in America?
According to data released by A&E last week, the show’s season premiere, which featured a vow renewal between “Duck Commander” founder Phil and his wife, Miss Kay, was watched by a whopping 11.8 million Americans - making “Duck Dynasty” the most watched non-fiction cable TV show of all time. Overnight data for the season’s second episode, which aired Wednesday night, was not available as of press time.
Not that it would be replacing ‘liberal’ shows by any stretch of the imagination – the two shows that “Duck Dynasty” would surpass, should it break the record, are The History Channel’s “The Bible,” with 13.1 million viewers last March, and AMC’s “Walking Dead,” which had 12.4 million viewers during its March season finale. The former speaks for itself, while the latter has in recent episodes embraced a more conservative outlook on life, according to Breitbart.
But can “Duck Dynasty” actually achieve this ambitious feat? When the show premiered in March 2012, “Duck Dynasty” only had an average of 1.3 million viewers tuning in weekly during its first season. By the third season, however, that number jumped to 8.4 million.
As a result, network executives are cautiously optimistic that it can be done.
“I’m a superstitious man so I don’t make [ratings] predictions,” David McKillop, A&E’s general manager and executive vice president, told NBC‘s “TODAY.” “But do I think we’ve found the ceiling yet? I don’t know but I don’t think so. We have some fun episodes coming down the pike. So keep your seat belt fastened.”
Perhaps the show will be aided in this quest by politicians like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who believes that her fellow Republicans should look to the Louisiana family to help the party better connect with Americans.
“It’s time our politicians wake up and hear some Duck calls from far outside the beltway,” she wrote on Facebook. “The self-made, hugely successful businessmen (and women) of Duck Dynasty made history this week with the “most watched non-fiction series” in TV history. What’s most interesting and inspiring is to see the number of young people tuning in to watch this all-American, hard working family — and learn the key to their success (as well as tips on how best to bag the ducks!).
She also praised patriarch Phil Robertson for an anti-abortion speech he delivered in 2010 but went viral earlier this week.
“Some woman has the right to tear you outta her a piece at a time? Come on! … You have a God-given right to live, in all places, inside your mother,” he told parishioners at the Berean Bible Church in Pottstown, Pa. in February 2010.
Either way, it’s time conservatives focused once again on taking back the culture war on television – especially since it’s conservative-leaning shows like “Duck Dynasty” that seem to be resonating best with the average American.