We said back when A&E made its move to suspend “Duck Dynasty” family patriarch Phil Robertson that we were going to start to see things get very ugly for all parties involved here, and that is definitely turning out to be the case now.
There are so many different sources of information out there right now, but let’s start with what is happening on the A&E side of things. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network is certainly dealing with a variety of different variables at the moment, and not all of them were entirely expected in the wake of the controversy first beginning. For one, executives have received death threats, and the network’s headquarters have had to acquire extra security for extra protection. The network expected backlash, but not on this level and with the vitriol that they have received.
There are also considerations to be taken here about the future of the show. While A&E and the Robertson family have talked over the past few days, there is no immediate sign of some sort of reconciliation. And while “Duck Dynasty” is still an enormous hit, there are some other factors that could be considered as part of what the network chooses to do. For one, the ratings for the show have actually dropped slightly since August, which may be a sign that the phenomenon is starting to naturally decline. Also, this is a show that has not sold as well internationally as some of the parent company’s other series, including “Pawn Stars.” This may not make A&E as willing to go from dealing with one form of backlash to the other while reinstating the show.
Also, TMZ co-founder Harvey Levin appeared this week on Fox News and suggested that it is very possible that the Robertsons could walk in the wake of the suspension, and the show could just be over. As for what this would mean when it comes to the family’s future on TV, they would have to sit out a period of time as per their contracts (as they do not own the show) before being able to go somewhere else. That part of the deal is similar to what Conan O’Brien went through after his exit from “The Tonight Show.” With this in mind, you cannot just assume that the Robertsons would be able to just go somewhere else immediately and start up shop.
In the end, the decision that A&E faces is such: If they reinstate Phil immediately, they satisfy some of the angry fans and Robertson supporters; however, they anger GLAAD and some of the other organizations that have called for steep consequences for Phil’s comments to GQ regarding homosexuality. Meanwhile, continuing to ban him satisfies the same-sex advocacy groups as well as liberals, and angers conservative fans. When you throw in here that the network was very aware of Phil’s beliefs long before ever hiring him, you have a situation that may not have a “happy happy happy” ending to it.
We will continue to share more news about “Duck Dynasty” as it comes out at the link here, just as we have the past few days. Be sure to also subscribe to our official newsletter if you do not want to miss an update.