In Wednesday’s Season 5 premiere of Duck Dynasty, the most controversial topic tackled by the bearded Robertson clan was debating the artistic superiority of the Air Bud versus Jason Bourne film franchise. There was also contention surrounding the merits of group texting and emojis.
Obviously absent was the debate that dominated the December news cycle —free media A&E probably would have passed on if given the choice —regarding show patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments to GQ about homosexuality (in the same sin category as prostitution and terrorism) and the Jim Crow era (black people liked it!) Not only was Phil unsuspended from the show almost as quickly as he was suspended, but most of the season was already in the can. Thus the bearded patriarch played a heavy role throughout, opening the first scene of the two-episode premiere and closing the last with their famous family prayer.
For those tuning in for the first time, drawn in to see what the fuss is about, here are some starter facts:
- The Robertson family made its fortune in duck calls. Thus the title of the show.
- The Robertson men all have beards and at first seem indistinguishable. It gets better.
- They also all have disproportionally attractive wives, proving that life imitates television sitcoms.
- Wives are introduced in relation to their husbands. The husbands are introduced in relation to Willie, who turned Duck Commander into a multi-million dollar empire. Jep and Jase are Willie’s brothers (they wear skull caps) and the now famous Phil is his father.
- Each episode is broken into digestible, titled chapters (like “Sweet Emoji” and “A Slip of the Dung”). The theme song is by ZZ Top, because it had to be.
Here are the big picture issues tackled in the two-episode premiere:
To Emoji or not to Emoji?
The camera pans to four bearded men (Jase, Jep, Phil, and Willie) and one bearded-man-in-training (Willie’s son John Luke) on a hunting excursion. But they aren’t talking ducks. Rather they were in deep debate about all things texting related. First comes the Tao of Jase: “Group texts are the worst. They’re like a terrible technological snowball coming down a mountain and you can’t stop it… What was the original conversation? No one knows. No one cares. Stop having a conversation on my phone.”
John Paul: “I like group texts.”
This naturally led to discussion of emojis, of which John Luke is also a fan. “Like smiley faces and people — animals sometimes.”
John Luke continues to discuss emojis with Willie after duck hunting is over.
JL: “There are all kinds of emojis.” W: “What’s that? A bearded guy?” JL: “That’s a monkey.”
Shockingly missing from the emoji catalog: ducks.
Although John Luke is soon set straight by Rebecca (we’ll get there) who told him that guys don’t really emoji. Amen.
Tune in for Snap Chat talk next week.
Viewers were introduced to Rebecca, a Taiwanese foreign exchange student that Willie’s family either technically or emotionally adopted 10 years ago. She’s even photographed in family portraits in which the Robertsons surprisingly don flowing white rather than camo.
The 24-year-old studies fashion in LA, but then came back to the “right” LA (Louisiana) for what Willie thought was a visit. But when Rebecca brings a million suitcases and a French bull dog, it’s clear that this isn’t a two-day trip. (Because only Real Housewives pack like that, and this ain’t Bravo.) Rebecca, however, is welcomed home with open arms and a planned out surprise party — the Robertson men bought a banner that says “Congratulations” instead of “Welcome Home” because it was on sale — and open arms. Besides, she has a business plan to be self sufficient (eventually).
The other new character is a family member of Willie’s wife, Korie. John David is Willie’s new assistant who Jase said only got hired because “He just wanted someone heavier and hairier so that he would look better by comparison.” At first there’s tension in the workplace — John David wears flip flops, brings lukewarm donuts, and doesn’t know how to blow a duck call — but he makes up for it after he buys the team a new basketball.
He won a place in Willie’s heart because he can recite Nacho Libre ad nauseam. Which brings us to our next topic…
Really Bad Movies
Phil’s brother Si is sick, so he has planted his “microbe” infested body on Phil’s couch to be taken care of by Phil’s wife, Miss Kay.
Si has also brought every single movie in the Air Bud franchise.
“Look, I’m a connoisseur when it comes to animal sports movies — Air Bud is an epic classic,” Si says. “It blows Rudy out of the water … it makes Field of Dreams look like Rookie of the Year.”
Phil can’t agree because it’s too unrealistic. A dog just can’t dunk a basketball! He prefers the Bourne series. Chaos ensues.
There was also a lot of talk of microbes throughout the two episodes. Phil thinks Si is a hypochondriac who has claimed to have everything from bird flu to sausage fingers. (“These things swell up like balloons!” Si says.)
But in part two, we learn that Phil has his own bizarre microbe philosophies. Jep says that Phil used to expose them to microbes all the time to build up immunities. Phil suggests Jep do the same for his kids by having them go outside and throw dung at each other. Great.
The other noteworthy thing that occurred was that Si organized an age-inappropriate treasure hunt for Jep’s children that was as confusing to its participants as it was to the audience. It culminated in digging up candy buried in what appeared to be a grave site.
Jep: They aren’t going to dig up a buried animal?
Si: I can’t guarantee that.
Children: I don’t care about candy anymore.