I was part of the rapt audience in Freedom Hall at the Kentucky State Fair yesterday, all of whom paid good money to listen to a certain Southern family sit up on stage and tell a few funny stories over about an hour and a half.
Yep, I am one of thousands of obsessed fans of the hit reality show, Duck Dynasty, and I am not ashamed to admit it. QUACK!
A friend turned me onto it last year, and I quickly became enamored of the Robertson family. I have not laughed that hard at a TV show since the Cosby kids were on NBC on Thursday nights in the 1980s.
If I loved this silly show before I saw Willie, Korie, Miss Kay and Si Robertson live and in person, now I adore ‘em even more. As they each addressed the enthusiastic crowd, it was evident that not a one of them puts on a pretense or a “character” for the show. They are who they are. What you see is what you get.
How friggin’ refreshing.
Sunday’s show wasn’t a performance, exactly. The first half was free-form storytelling, led by Willie. He and the others spoke from the heart, with no script. They could have just as easily been standing up in someone’s family room as on a formal stage. The second half was like a talk show or panel discussion, with local emcee Terry Meiners asking questions of each Robertson, as they all sat in a row with microphones in hand.
I laughed, I cheered… I smiled from ear to ear.
Let me just say that it was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. Money well spent. (OK, my brother’s money well spent. He bought me the ticket as a birthday present, but still.)
Journalists and entertainment writers have spent a lot of time exploring why the show holds such wide appeal. It’s become the No. 1 reality show on cable ever, I do believe. The consensus is that Duck Dynasty is so popular because, in a world of violence, evil and general mayhem, it puts the focus back on faith and the traditional family. I agree with that to some extent.
But for me, it both is a little simpler and more complicated than that. And some of my love and adoration for the show just defies explanation.
First, I think I find the show so funny because I have family roots in the Deep South, and I am actually related to people with names like Peewee, Shooter and Bubba. As a result, I’ve got a little redneck in me, and I get a big kick out of redneck humor.
I think the Robertsons are also so endearing to me personally because they are they family that I have always wanted. All of the couples married young, have stayed together for 20-, 30- and 40-plus years, and they all are still devoted to each other to this day.
My parents are divorced. I married young, but divorced nearly as young. And my second go-around didn’t go a hell of a lot better than the first. Let’s just say that my nuclear family has never looked like the traditional model, and I’ve had many wistful moments of regret as a result.
Anyhoo, there are also some elements of the show that I can't relate to and don't necessarily appeal to me.
While I have a strong faith in a God of my own understanding, I am a lapsed Christian and have not attended a formal church service in years. I respect the Robertsons for their religious devotion, but I don’t agree with their convictions. So I am not one who is jumping up and down with glee that they have single-handedly gotten a weekly dose of Jesus back on the teevee.
Also, I don’t hunt. In fact, I don’t even know how to shoot a gun, or even which gun you would use for hunting. I know the difference between a rifle and a handgun, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. I also cry when animals die in the movies, so the hunting aspect of Duck Dynasty – which is a HUGE aspect, admittedly, since that’s how they make their living – is lost on me. And yet, the scenes in the duck blinds are some of my favorites. Explain that to me, if you can.
On the flip side, I do tend to subscribe to traditional gender roles, within reason. I am a strong independent woman when I need to be, but I don’t object to donning an apron and spending an afternoon in the kitchen, cooking up whatever my caveman killed. (Assuming I have a caveman, which right now I don't.) I love to cook, so I especially enjoy watching Miss Kay in her kitchen.
Bottom line: I am a very feminine woman, and I am attracted to overtly masculine men. That may not be politically correct anymore, but I don’t care. Sue me.
Every now and then, family patriarch Phil comes out with a misogynist comment that totally turns me off, but for the most part, he just reminds me of my conservative dad. And I love my daddy.
The Robertsons worked hard and paid their dues to earn the success they are enjoying today, and I admire them so much for all they’ve accomplished.
They also laugh at themselves, which is ridiculously endearing. They don’t try to hurt or backstab each other like you see on nearly all the other reality shows, at least not for real. Any barbs they throw at each other are both done and taken in jest. They love each other, and it shows.
My favorite Robertson is Si, mainly because he is entertaining as hell. He’s that crazy relative that everyone should be blessed with. He’s a little cranky, and full of spit and vinegar. And his stories are just ludicrous. He is also probably the only person on the planet who can get away with butchering the English language or pop culture references, and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
And of course, he was in rare form at Freedom Hall yesterday, which was the highlight of the afternoon for me and everyone else in the crowd. Armed with his gallon jug of iced tea and Tupperware tea glass, he told us how his wife makes it for him every morning: three, family-size Lipton tea bags in a big bowl of water, heated in the microwave for six minutes, then poured over cold water.
On that note, I’ll end this post with my all-time favorite Si-ism, uttered during last year’s Christmas episode: “Hey, I’m proud to be Spock. Spock was the one who blew up the Death Star, boys. He can kill a man with that Volkswagen Death Grip.”
If that doesn’t compel you nonbelievers to watch the show now, they’s somethin’ wrong with ya, Jack!
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.