Duck Dynasty’s insane success: it’s The Hills with beards

A&E’s reality series Duck Dynasty was the most popular show Wednesday night on all of television among key demographics, easily beating Survivor, The X Factor, and other shows. Yes, a scripted reality show following a Louisiana family with a successful business and beards does better than CBS’ high-quality reality competition, or all of the noise and nonsense that Simon Cowell and Fox spend millions of dollars to produce.

The second-season finale on Wednesday had 6.5 million viewers,which made the Gurney Productions-produced series A&E’s “most-watched telecast of all time among all key demos, including total viewers, adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54,” according to the network, which also said that the show “has grown by 139% in total viewers, 141% in adults 18-34, 136% in adults 25-54 and 127% in adults 18-49 versus the season one average.” And more significantly, it was “television’s top show on Wednesday night (cable and broadcast) in prime among adults 18-34 and 18-49.”

What does this mean? Get ready for more Duck Dynasty knock-offs, as networks search for real people who can be scripted into comedic situations. And probably fail miserably and subject us to a bunch of shit.

A&E’s press release includes a description of the network that says its “unscripted shows are dramatic and scripted dramas are authentic.” The irony is that it’s kind of the reverse here: in this show, they have scripted reality with authentic people.

Like with MTV’s The Hills, the godparent of all scripted reality shows, people don’t seem to care, especially since the Duck Dynasty clan actually is real and had success before the show with their business Duck Commander. More importantly, throughout two seasons, they’ve proven themselves to be fun to watch, witty and engaging even when they’re faking their way through heavily contrived producer situations and attempting to act by saying lines scripted for them.

Good for them; Lauren Conrad help us for what’s coming as a result of this show’s popularity.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.