The Real Message of Duck Dynasty

The entertainment hit from out of nowhere, Duck Dynasty, is now in its third season on A&E. The Robertsons—the family the show is based around—appear to be as unchanged by their newfound fame as is humanly possible. While the show is largely about the men and their daily escapades through Louisiana marshes and swamps, a strong domestic foundation is consistently present thanks to the Robertson women. A recent interview with Missy Robertson, wife of Jase, is an interesting and informative one about the family, but it is also a rare example of honesty and integrity.

What is most intriguing about the entire interview is that never once does Missy take the opportunity to elevate her role in the family. She fully acknowledges that the men—patriarch Phil and her husband Jase, in particular—are the stars of the show, and she doesn’t once indicate that this is not how it should be. She understands her role as one of “supporting cast,” and she seems to be more than fine with this. Missy is secure in where she stands in the Robertson family, and even more secure in where she stands in her marriage. When asked about the challenges of fame to their marriage, Missy had this to say:

We have a very strong marriage. There’s not a whole lot that has gotten to us in our 22 years. I think it’s because of the way we were raised and because of our faith. It’s very rare that a couple like Phil and Kay would have four boys and all of them be married to their original wives for as many years as they have been. And, of course, my parents have been married to only each other. So, when we got married, both Jase and I knew it was for life and for eternity. Of course, when you’re getting married at 19 and 20, who can anticipate anything? Not that we haven’t had challenges, but there’s never been a question that we weren’t going to be together for the rest of our lives.

Notice the effect of examples here. It is not for nothing that Jase and Missy “knew it was for life and for eternity” when they got married. They had at least two other influential examples of what marriage looks like to set the expectation for what their own should look like. This simple and time-tested concept is easily over-looked and too often ignored by parents: marriages that weather external challenges will breed more marriages that weather external challenges.

In reality, this simple message is the big picture idea of the entire Duck Dynasty media blitz. Each and every show presents opportunities for family members to gripe, bicker, one-up, and needle each other in new and entertaining ways. This, in effect, is what true familial life is like on a day-to-day basis.

Talking about the early days, when the show was still in the discussion phase as a “reality show” on the Outdoor Channel sponsored by Benelli Firearms, Missy tells this:

We didn’t know if the show was going to work. We sat around in a meeting with the Benelli company years ago and said, “Wait a minute — reality shows? They live on conflict, dysfunction and trying to get a rise out of each other, for the cameras. We are Christian people. We try to do the opposite. So, we don’t see how this is going to work.”

But in hindsight, this is precisely why the show does work. The Robertsons don’t do anything for the camera that they normally wouldn’t do without a camera. Families, by their very nature, include conflict, dysfunction, and getting a rise out of each other. The unique thing about the Robertsons and Duck Dynasty is that each episode ends with a shared family meal and a prayer—conflict and resolution. The usual reality show formula is conflict, conflict, conflict, until one of the characters explodes at the others. Not so with the Robertsons. Their conflict brings them closer, rather than driving them farther apart.

If the show or the family ever loses this understanding, Duck Dynasty will quickly become like all other reality shows. Missy Robertson understands this because it has been modeled for her by her parents and her in-laws. A real-life example is stronger and lasts much longer than a theoretical lesson.