In this day and age of crappy reality television, of which I watch plenty, it’s refreshing to find a genuinely funny show featuring genuinely good people, people you know aren’t being whispered to by sleazy producers or using their unlikely fame for evil. Such people exist in West Monroe, Louisiana and are featured on A&E’s Duck Dynasty, which has been breaking all kinds of records over the past couple of years. The leader of those people, Phil Robertson, recently wrote a pretty entertaining book.
The most popular “character” (and I mean that as in ‘he’s such a character’ not ‘he’s literally acting even though it’s a reality show’) on Duck Dynasty is probably Uncle Si, whose odd pronunciations of words and stories about fighting in ‘Nam are outrageously funny, but my favorite Robertson man is Phil. Phil is interested in three things and three things only: hunting ducks, being with his family and serving God. He started a multi-million dollar business of building and selling duck calls, but he’s a true family man — each episode concludes with him sitting down to a delicious-looking dinner with his wife, brother, sons, grandchildren and friends. His facial expressions, even behind the wraparound sunglasses he seems to wear at all hours, are priceless, and his completely one-of-a-kind personality truly comes through in his book.
In the beginning of Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander, Phil goes into a great deal of detail about how he grew up quite literally “living off the land”. He, his brothers, sisters and parents grew and/or killed absolutely everything they put in their mouths. He says repeatedly that they lived like it was the 1850s even though it was the 1950s, and that is something us city folk/Generation Y-ers, what Phil calls “yuppies”, seriously cannot fathom. Phil was also a star football player in high school and later at Louisiana Tech — thanks to his quitting the team in favor of pursuing his love of ducks, a “young buck” by the name of Terry Bradshaw was able to step into the spotlight. Phil and Miss Kay got married right out of high school and started having children soon after, but at that time Phil shockingly had an alcohol problem. It was actually religion that made him realize the error of his ways, and while describing this ordeal Phil gets way more religious than I ever thought he was based on the show. His Bible quoting and constant references to “Him” don’t make me uncomfortable, though; it fascinates me to know that that’s what changed a very serious problem in his life. Once he stopped drinking and “accepted Jesus” and all that, he bought the land they still live on today (where much of Duck is filmed) and became a commercial fisherman before starting the duck call business. The rest, as they say, is history.
What amazes me, perhaps even more so than Phil’s (and his son Willie‘s) business savvy in getting the Duck Commander business to where it is today, is Phil’s inherent knowledge of the world around him. The man can recite every single duck hunting law in the U.S. from memory, knows all the characteristics of all the different types of ducks in the world, understands how to care for the various trees and grass and other plant life on his dozens and dozens of acres of land — the man doesn’t even own a computer! Or a cell phone! He just KNOWS all this STUFF. I am also amazed by how much he and Miss Kay love and respect each other after 40-something years of marriage; despite a few very, very old-fashioned views, they seem to have one of the best marriages portrayed on television, reality or not.
While I do recommend this bit of light reading to fellow Duck fans, more than anything I recommend every non-Duck fan on the planet with access to a television start watching immediately. The Robertsons have the unique effect of making you laugh, making you want to be part of their family but also reminding you to be grateful for your own.