These days it’s tough to find reasons to be cheerful about the state of the nation – but an America without Duck Dynasty is a good place to start. No show in television history has ever sucked quite like this one. And if the TV gods are willing, no show ever will.
A&E’s massive hit became a cultural presence in 2012 for its down-home charm – the zany adventures of a real-life Lousiana clan who kept their country manners and backwoods habits, with Phil, Miss Kay, their bearded sons and loopy Vietnam vet Uncle Si. Tonight, after five seasons of shenanigans running the family duck-call business, the Robertsons sign off tonight with their series finale, the last gasp of their barely noticed farewell go-round. The decline and fall of Duck Dynasty seems like it should have been a big-deal event, but it’s a surprisingly meek exit for a hit that loomed so large just a couple of years ago. This is the way the dynasty ends – not with a quack but with a whimper.
It’s poetic justice that 2017 is the year the Robertson family is finally heading off to the duck pond in the sky. The show represented the pre-Trump Christian right’s fantasy of itself – a family of hairy but God-fearing bootstrappers bowing their heads in prayer over the dinner table. Just a year ago, this was the most feared demographic in American politics – the bloc that couldn’t be bought or sold. But when the Christian right fell in line behind the most flamboyantly secular presidential candidate of the past century – a pussy-grabbing New Yorker who didn’t pretend to owe Jesus a damn thing – they sold themselves out, ensuring it’ll be a cold day in heck before they get another chance to vote for one of their own. The right is a whole new bird hunt now, as the godless white nationalists take over from the church ladies. And that makes Duck Dynasty look pitifully dated, in addition to everything else that blows about it.
The Robertsons weren’t even fun to watch on a reality-trash level, because they were too phony to believe – so artificial in their micro-scripted dialogue, so cynical in their piety, so bone-headed in their recycled sitcom plots. Hell, even their beards looked fake. So their family values always came across as a made-for-TV shuck; however sincere they may or may not have been in real life, the Robertsons never failed to turn into show-biz frauds onscreen. In one episode, Miss Kay confides that Phil never remembers their wedding anniversary – the only dates he can remember are Christmas and Easter. Aaaaawww.
Yet as any viewer with any kind of Christian background could have informed the writers, Easter isn’t a date – it’s a moveable feast that bounces between various Sundays. (This year it’s on April 17th.) A church lady like Miss Kay should know that, right? Except either she didn’t know, or she didn’t care, or the writers felt it was such a clever button-pushing line they made her say it anyway.
Duck Dynasty always had plenty of those cynical moments. In one episode, Phil refuses to bathe for hunting season, while Miss Kay wants him to wash up, so they read Bible verses to each other to defend their positions. Miss Kay wins the argument by reading the proverb, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Except that isn’t in the Bible. (It dates back to John Wesley in 1778.) Either Miss Kay and Phil don’t really know their family Good Book, or they’re just obediently reciting any old half-assed banter the writers feed them.
A typically phony gag, from this phoniest of reality franchises. Farewell, Duck Dynasty. The end of your era is a rare reason to celebrate in 2017 – but we’ll take it.
— Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, Fowl Play: Saying Goodbye to ‘Duck Dynasty,’ TV’s Worst Show, March 29, 2017
Let me end this post with a photographic reminder of how these frauds looked BEFORE their Duck Dynasty Days and a few quotes from anal sex obsessed Robertson patriarch Phil.
“God says, ‘One woman, one man,’ and everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s old hat, that’s that old Bible stuff. But I’m thinking, well, let’s see now. A clean guy — a disease-free guy and a disease-free woman — they marry and they keep their sex between the two of them. They’re not going to get chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and syphilis, and AIDS. It’s safe.”
“Men should use the men’s bathroom and women should use the women’s bathroom. Just because a man may ‘feel’ like a woman doesn’t mean he should be able to share a bathroom with my daughter, or yours. That used to be called common sense. Now it’s called bigoted.”
“In this case, you either have to convert them[ISIS], which I think would be next to impossible. I’m not giving up on them, but I’m just saying either convert them or kill them. I’d much rather have a Bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ… However, if it’s a gunfight and a gunfight alone, if that’s what they’re looking for, me personally, I am prepared for either one.”
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
“Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless. They are faithless. They are senseless. They are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.”
“I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude? Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.If it happened to them,” Robertson continued, “they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.”
“I tell people, ‘You are a sinner, we all are. Do you want to hear my story before I give you the bottom line on your story? We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief. So what is your safest course of action? If you’re a man, find yourself a woman, marry them and keep your sex right there. … You can have fun, but one thing is for sure, as long as you are both healthy in the first place, you are not going to catch some debilitating illness. There is safety there. Commonsense says we are not going to procreate the human race unless we have a man and a woman. From the beginning Jesus said, ‘It is a man and a woman.’ Adam was made and Eve was made for this reason.”
“Look, you wait ’til they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 [Robertson’s wife was 15 when they married] or 16. They’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course. Make sure that she can cook a meal. You need to eat some meals that she cooks. Check that out. Make sure she carries her Bible. That’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now that’s a woman!”
“Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God … Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
“Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there — bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
“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.”
“We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief… boy there are some microbes running around now.”
“Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all.”
“Temporary is all you’re going to get with any kind of health care, except the health care I’m telling you about. That’s eternal health care, and it’s free… I’ve opted to go with eternal health care instead of blowing money on these insurance schemes.”
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
“There is a penalty to be paid from what the beatniks and had morphed into the hippies, you say ?what do you call the hundred and ten-million people who have sexually transmitted illnesses?? It’s the revenge of the hippies. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll have come back to haunt us. In a bad way.”
“Why do they murder and why do they hate us? Because all of them … 80 years of history, they all want to conquer the world, they all rejected Jesus and they’re all famous for murder. Nazis, Shintoists, Communists and the Mohammedists. Every one of them the same way.”
“I am a God loving, Bible believing, gun-toting, capitalist!”