The Robertson family may follow the basic story line of a typical rags-to-riches tale, but their life-changing money maker isn't anything close to what you might expect these days, like the latest app to hit iPhones or the new "set it and forget it" on the home shopping channel. The Louisiana family started a small operation -- Duck Commander -- of duck call devices and decoys in 1973.
Founded by the father and now successfully operated by the son, Duck Commander has made the family multimillionaires. So what makes this now wealthy family so special that they've landed a second season on the A&E Network for their increasingly popular reality show "Duck Dynasty"? It isn't that they have the well-polished look or extremely lavish lifestyles of many other reality families marketed on cable networks.
Perhaps the appeal of the family is, as the show's website describes: "they operate a thriving business while staying true to their family values and lifestyle." The business employs both family and "half their neighborhood."
Or, perhaps it's as A&E's Executive Vice President of Programming David McKillop says: “There is truly no one else like the Robertsons in the TV landscape." Although there are other reality TV shows highlighting Southerners, McKillop describes the Robertsons as having a "unique brand of Southern schooling.”
Or, maybe some family members said it best themselves to ABC News before their initial season began to run:
"I've seen enough train wrecks on TV, on these shows, It will be nice to see a family that sits down and has a meal together," [Duck Commander CEO] Willie [Robertson] said.
"In the end, it's all about love, family and putting family first," Korie, [Willie's wife,] added.
Whatever the reason, the show finished up its first season as the most-viewed cable TV show that night with 2.6 million viewers-- 1.5 million of them in the adults 25-54 and 18-49 age demographic. Although its pilot season only had 14 episodes, its new contract is for 26.
Some of the reality cast involves Willie, CEO of Duck Commander and "resident prankster;" the original Duck Commander, Phil, also the patriarch of the family who is according to A&E "a living legend in Louisiana;" Kay, who married Phil at 16, and, like many a Southern matriarch, truly has the final say on many familial matters; and Uncle Si who plays an integral role making the duck calls. Other cast members, including the wives that married into the family, are on the show as well.
The Monroe Louisiana News-Star reports Willie saying the family is "pumped" to "make more TV magic."
"Even here in L.A. we're getting recognized," Willie said to the News-Star of his family's trips to Los Angeles for filming. "We were eating in the hotel restaurant (CUT, a Wolfgang Puck eatery) and the chef was a huge fan. The waiter came to us and said, 'I don't know if we have duck on the menu.' We got a tour of the kitchen."
Here's a clip describing Willie's entrepreneurial spirit:
Watch the family describe how they make their "hand-tuned and tested" duck callers:
This clip compiles a slew of "Duck Dynasty" quotes and moments:
The half hour episodes are expected to begin airing again on A&E in late 2012. If you need to catch up before the show starts up again, full episodes of "Duck Dynasty" can be found here.