Phil Robertson & 'Duck Dynasty' Will Continue to Thrive, If History Is Any Indication
The fate of everyone's favorite redneck millionaires may be in jeopardy, but remaining fans who want to see more Duck Dynasty shouldn't be too concerned. In case you haven't been following the saga of Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch came under fire for making homophobic and racist comments to GQ. The show's network, A&E, then announced that Phil will be suspended from the hit series, something his family isn't very happy about.
In fact, the Louisiana family's response makes it seem like there may not be a Duck Dynasty without Phil. After defending the remarks as Phil simply expressing his freedom of speech as a "Godly man," the remaining Robertsons had this to say.
We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.
So no Phil, no show? Not exactly. Duck Dynasty is an extremely popular show, shockingly popular, actually. Its fourth season premiere set a record as the highest-rated reality show episode ever, and it gets more viewers on a weekly basis than shows like Mad Men and Game of Thrones. For TV networks, higher ratings mean higher ad rates and more money. A&E is making an absurd amount of money off the Robertsons, a source of revenue they're not very likely to part with.
Besides the fact that reality stars have to sign a little thing called a contract that could take away their choice in the matter, this isn't the first time a reality show has stirred up controversy, and most of them lived to see some more seasons.
Bouncing Back from Controversy
This summer's fifteenth season of Big Brother was one of the most offensive seasons of a TV show, ever. Between the openly racist Aaryn and in-denial-about-being-racist GinaMarie and Amanda, every episode made jaws drop in shock. But CBS kept it going and even decided to air all of the racist comments. Big Brother is a little different since each season contains new contestants, but it will return for a sixteenth season and would anyone really be surprised if Aaryn showed up on its next All-Stars edition?
The American Big Brother wasn't the first to deal with these issues either. Way back in 2007, the UK's Celebrity Big Brother 5 attracted attention when contestant Jade Goody was accused of making racist remarks towards Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. People were outraged and Goody later apologized. Big Brother continued there too, and though Goody lost some popularity, in 2008 she wrote an autobiography and was given her own reality show, which chronicled the struggle with cervical cancer that would eventually take her life. Following her death, Big Brother aired a tribute to Goody and called her the ultimate housemate.
Sometimes instead of just one star getting in trouble, an entire show can find itself facing accusations of racism. This summer American Idol was sued by 10 black former contestants who said that the show's producers discriminated against them by using former arrests to eliminate them from the show. According to the group, only black contestants had their backgrounds so thoroughly investigated and they also claimed that they were falsely portrayed, since none were ever charged for the crimes. One of TV's highest rated shows, American Idol lives on.
Other shows are criticized before they even air, like Jersey Shore. Obviously the MTV series has had its share of scandal, like cast members being arrested on camera and Jwoww's now-fiancee throwing her to the ground in the middle of a bar fight. But before all of that, the series had to premiere, something Italian-American groups tried to stop.
The original trailers for Jersey Shore called cast members the "hottest, tannest, craziest guidos," a term that many Italian-Americans took issue with. MTV aired the show anyway and the backlash increased, with groups claiming the stars' behavior stereotyped Italians. The actual Jersey shore took issue with the series too, claiming that it negatively portrayed the area. Even though they lost three sponsors, including Dell, MTV kept the show going for six seasons and has given it three spin-offs.
What This Means for Duck Dynasty
To everyone fervently opposing the Robertsons, sorry but they're not going anywhere. Duck Dynasty demolishes Big Brother and Jersey Shore when it comes to ratings and A&E will likely do everything in their power to keep it on the air. Even if the rest of the family doesn't want to continue without Phil, some sort of agreement will be made that keeps everyone happy and the money flowing on both ends.
What Phil said was horrible and offensive, but scandal brings attention, attention brings viewers, and viewers bring money. It may not be right, but unless an extremely significant amount of its audience leaves (which is highly unlikely), Duck Dynasty is here to stay. Phil will apologize, the rest of the family will give another, better apology, some money will be donated to LGBTQ charities and there might be a "very special episode" addressing all of this, but after all that, Duck Dynasty will be on A&E, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.