Of all the new reality
shows inexplicably set in Louisiana
— Bayou Billionaires, Swamp People,
et. al. — I was most drawn to Duck
Dynasty on A&E.
Duck Dynasty follows the exploits
of the Robertson family, a millionaire
clan whose fortune was built on the raspy sound of a
duck’s quack. Duck Commander duck calls are some
of the best in the country. I know because I own one,
and it has helped me fill a gumbo pot many times in
But watching the pilot of Duck Dynasty makes you
wonder how this clan ever built a business handmaking
some of the best calls around. The patriarch
of the family is Phil, who played first-string quarterback
ahead of Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech University
in the ’60s. As the story goes, Phil turned down the
NFL draft because it interfered with duck season. After
he created the Duck Commander Duck Call in 1973,
his college-educated son Willie took the business to
the next level.
Virtually all the men in the Robertson family are
marked by long hair, long beards, camo and bits of bayou
wisdom. “Find yourself a meek, gentle, kind-spirited
country girl,” Phil tells his grandson as he
cuts the heads off frogs for a “delicacy” of
frogs’ legs to be enjoyed later.
These self-described “redneck millionares”
are center stage in a production that
combines Z.Z. Top, scenery from Deliverance
and a dash of Everybody Loves Raymond.
One of my favorite shots in the title
sequence is of the men firing shotguns at
golf balls freshly hit by clubs by their kin.
In the first episode, when Willie wonders why the
small workshop isn’t humming with orders that have
piled up, he finds his brother and polar opposite Jase
flooding the loading docks for some ducks. “When
you quit researchin’, you quit developin’ ” says Jase,
defending his decision.
I did not see the next episodes, and I probably
don’t need to see them to get the storyline. I’m sure
Willie will be trying to keep the business on track
amidst the hijinks of his hunting family. I wasn’t sure
if I was supposed to laugh at the bumbling bayou
brothers or if the show was more of a travel piece to
highlight the strange folks down in Louisiana.
I’ve never been a reality fan, and I’ve never watched
an entire episode of Real Housewives, but I will say
this: drama and humor comes a lot easier when you’re
surrounded by snakes, alligators and duck hunters.