WASHINGTON, August 14, 2013 —Once in a great while a TV show comes along that breaks all the rules on its way to success. Prior to A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” reality TV usually meant watching people driven by their affection for excess and bad behavior. But recently, the allure of watching drunken one-night stands on the Jersey Shore has given way to the archaic notion of a tight-knit church-going family who say grace before each meal.
Despite the many critics of “Duck Dynasty,” the show grew 95 percent in viewership last season, averaging 8.4 million fans per show. For the season three finale, an astonishing 9.6 million people tuned in to get a dose of the Robertson family. That’s a number that any major broadcast network would be thrilled to achieve.
Reality show producers try to steer a show toward controversy and create tension where none exists. But other than an occasional cliffhanger before a commercial, “Duck Dynasty” has avoided contrived drama. There is no yelling, crying or fighting, and the children say “yes sir” and “yes ma’am.” Conflicts are resolved with a game of ping pong or a round of golf.
“Unscripted” is a generous assessment of all reality shows. Of course the plots are developed and lines are rehearsed before the cameras roll. “Duck Dynasty” gets away with this because the Robertson family never take themselves too seriously. They have made their fortune. If the show were cancelled tomorrow, it would have little effect on their standard of living. They can afford to be themselves and say “no” when someone suggests otherwise.
Do we believe “Duck Dynasty” is spontaneous? Absolutely not. Do we believe the Robertson family is just as amusing when they aren’t being filmed? You bet we do. It may not be the most sophisticated show on TV, but there are millions of people who would love to join the Robertsons at their dinner table.
The rest of the country can get its reality TV fix by watching big lipped, botox loving drama queens flip over tables and scream in each other’s faces. But here in the flyover zone, people are happy, happy, happy to watch the everyday adventures of that bearded bunch from West Monroe, La.
All times are EDT:
ABC: The Middle: (Repeat) A neighbor accuses Frankie of stealing her hose; Sue cancels a road trip to Cincinnati after seeing Mike’s paycheck; Brick learns about the birds and the bees.
CBS: Big Brother: (New) The Power of Veto competition is held.
FOX: MasterChef: (Repeat) Contestants that were ousted earlier in the season get a chance to earn their spot back. First, they must cook as many fried eggs as possible, and the Top 2 chefs from that test advance to a blind-taste-test challenge involving salmon, with the winner getting to rejoin the competition.
NBC: America’s Got Talent: (Repeat) Twelve acts perform at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.
CW: Arrow: (Repeat) The Huntress returns to Starling City and disrupts Oliver’s life.
ABC: Last Man Standing: (Repeat) Mike discovers that Boyd is no longer using the Baxter name; Kristin, Mandy and Eve make a Valentine’s Day music video.
ABC: Modern Family: (Repeat) When Gloria’s mother and sister visit, they bring traditions, baby names and family baggage; Phil helps the kids with their problems; Mitchell and Cameron try to correct Lily’s bad habits.
CBS: Criminal Minds: (Repeat) Reid’s girlfriend is kidnapped by a stalker, and the unit conducts a search to find her.
NBC: America’s Got Talent: (Live) Twelve more performers take the Radio City stage to battle for a spot in the semifinals.
Fox: MasterChef: (New) The Top 7 contestants compete in a mystery-box challenge in which they must cook up T-bone steaks. Later, they face an elimination round involving poultry.
CW: Supernatural: (Repeat) Sam and Dean encounter an avenging ghost responsible for a murder.
ABC: The Neighbors: (Repeat) The relationship advice Debbie gives Reggie backfires, making things harder for Jackie and Larry; Amber doesn’t want to discuss her boyfriend with Debbie.
ABC: ABC’s The Lookout: (New) Reports on consumer products and spending are featured.
CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (Repeat) Russell searches for a way to connect with a 6-year-old girl who is the sole survivor and only witness of a triple homicide.
NBC: Camp: (New) The CITs’ parents descend, bringing a whole lotta drama to Camp Little Otter.
New episodes of:
BBQ Crawl at 8 p.m. on Travel Channel
Diggers at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on NGC
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo at 8:30 and 9 p.m. on TLC
Property Brothers at 9 p.m. on HGTV
Royal Pains at 9 p.m. on USA
Paranormal Witness at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Franklin & Bash at 9 p.m. on TNT
Love Thy Neighbor at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on OWN
Duck Dynasty at 10 p.m. on A&E
Mystery Diners at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Futurama at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central
Broadchurch at 10 p.m. on BBC
Top Chef Masters at 10 p.m. on BRAVO
How the Universe Works: Expanded Edition at 10 p.m. on SCI
The Bridge at 10 p.m. on FX
Top Shot All-Stars at 10 p.m. on History Channel
Necessary Roughness at 10 p.m. on USA
Hot in Cleveland at 10 p.m. on TVLAND
Diggers: Juiced at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on NGC
The Exes at 10:30 p.m. on TVLAND
For movie lovers:
Scarface on AMC
The Witches of Eastwick on ENC
Starship Troopers on IFC
Born of the Forth of July on SHO
Spies Like Us on SUND
Ex-Lady on TCM
Elizabeth on TMC
Dark Victory at 9:15 p.m. on TCM
Project X at 9:30 p.m. on HBO
100 Girls at 9:35 p.m. on FLIX
This is Spinal Tap at 9:45 p.m. on Sunday
Firestarter at 10 p.m. on ENC
Ted at 10 p.m. on HBO
Hitch at 10 p.m. on STARZ
The Wrath of Cain at 10:30 p.m. on SHO
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