Having so many years vested in working in television and movies I am always interested on why a TV show or movie concept works. I have never been on the ground floor of developing a program so I am out of the loop the process which makes a hit- a hit. So here I am developing an emotional tie to Duck Dynasty and trying to figure out what it is about this show that is hitting so many marks.
We won’t go into Patriarch Phil Robertson’s interview a few years ago, in GQ which most will point to as the downslide of the show. Right now, liking DD is like voting for Trump. You don’t want to say it out loud as you may get a verbal lashing from someone who disagrees and don’t want to really hear your feelings.
Marketers will be analyzing DD for years to try to figure out the formula for this semi-reality show about hunting, the eclectic south, iced tea in Tupperware glasses, unruly bearded men, very attractive wives, men who are funny and passionate about their Christian beliefs became a hit for 11 seasons.
Maureen Ryan from the Huffington Post did a blog several years ago. She was on target in her observations, and more so now that DD is in its final season. A show need ‘time to develop an audience’, she surmised. Television Shows as Dick Van Dyke Show back in the mid-sixties became a hit only because during the summer ABC ran the show in reruns. A show that garnered lots of cash for the network and who’s humor still holds after 50 some years- would have never been developed if the comedy aired today.
The biggest cash cow for Paramount Studios would have died if it wasn’t for reruns. Star Trek would have gone off to an universe unknown if NBC/Desilu didn’t sell the show off to reruns. When the show was on the air in 1966 it was on evenings late or on Friday nights- when the hip kids who would have ‘gotten the show’ were going out on dates or going to bed. The audience that would have made Star Trek the smash it is today now could catch the show at 4 and 5pm during the week in the early 70’s. In the afternoon time slot they caught the show and a marketer’s dream was born.
A&E kept Duck Dynasty on the air even when the ratings were lacking when it first came out. As Ms. Ryan pointed out, “A bigger network wouldn’t have allowed a comedy that started with fewer than 2 million viewers to hang around for three seasons, but A&E’s patience with the show… has allowed people to get to know the Robertsons.”
Duck Dynasty Is A Mixture Of Successful, Familiar Formats
Duck Dynasty is a mixture of ‘successful, familiar formats’. There is family, a work place, a town. These are all hallmarks of our favorite shows. Let’s go back to Dick Van Dyke Show. It was the first sit-com to show a man at home and at work. It delved into the ‘private lives’ of his co-workers and even his boss. All in the Family– as dysfunctional the thoughts Archie Bunker verbalized were shocking, funny, and embarrassing- and his family had to put up with the man- he was family. If All in the Family aired today, we both know that it wouldn’t be on the air for long. But thanks to Mike Stivick (Rob Reiner) he spoke on the other side of the argument giving voice to both sides.
There is really nothing new about Duck. Nothing about is really sets a viewer’s teeth on edge. It mixes comedy, close knit family, and situations that may hit a cord with the audience.
It has some conflict in the family, if it’s Jase setting up Uncle Si and Willie, to Miss Kay wanting a washing machine or a change in the work place- we understand.
As Ms. Ryan pointed out, “…we know it’s mostly in good fun, and nobody’s going to leave anybody else in the lurch (or in the duck blind)”
I have lived in Los Angeles and Florida and now in the heart of the south- Tennessee and the people here are very different. I find the same sweetness in DD. We all crave a slower pace. A time to spend with family, children, friends, nature. DD brings that to us. Yes they all have wonderful homes and property. Duck Commander’s revue is 40 million and there is nothing about DD that flaunts the wealth the family has. Which brings us into the family circle even more.
Duck Dynasty Approaches Issues As Relationships In The Family And At Work
Duck Dynasty approaches issues as relationships in the family and at work. Employers and employee interactions. Working with family, marriage, children interactions. All these issues are things that we face in our lives. When we watch other ‘reality shows’ we are outsiders looking in. Now so with the Duck Men. We may not relate to hunting and fishing, but as a woman I do relate to a husband who has other passions that I don’t understand. Golf, football, tennis, on line gaming, and DD shows me I may not be alone. But- I can still enjoy that man and his passions.
Willie, Uncle Si, Jase, Jeb and all the other Duck Men are a marketer’s dream. They bring everything together at the end of the show. Prayers, laughter and a wrap up of the episode by Willie tying up what we witnessed.