Thursday, April 11, 2013

Is ‘Duck Dynasty’ becoming a victim of its own success?

I love the Robertson clan.

Admittedly, I came to the ‘Duck Dynasty’ party after the first season – kudos to those who found it from the get go – and didn’t really fall in love with it until its second season.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, I liked the show pretty early – especially compared to a lot of other people.

So, imagine my surprise, when I realized that I wasn’t enjoying this third season as much as the previous two.

I couldn’t put my finger on it at first – but over the past two weeks it’s become glaringly obvious what is different: They’re staging too many things.

The real success of ‘Duck Dynasty’ came from family interactions. An entire episode of Jase building an office outside of Willie’s to annoy him was funny. An episode of the men frogging, or searching for beaver, or generally getting into mischief in the woods was hilarious – just because they were being honest to themselves.

Now the show is falling victim to showmanship, though. Showmanship is what brought down shows
like ‘The Osbournes’ and ‘Jon and Kate Plus Eight.’ Okay, technically the divorce brought down the latter, but it was waning because everything had become a gimmick episode.

I think we all can say that the first season of ‘The Osbournes’ was the best – because it was just the family living in their natural environment and communicating with one another. The show failed when the kids became hyper aware of their star power and they started setting specific scenarios up to get laughs.

You don’t keep your audience happy by faking things.

This season’s ‘Duck Dynasty’ episodes have felt forced.

Willie trying to lose weight and going to yoga – and Phil somehow showing up in the yoga studio has setup written all over it.

Willie going dress shopping with Sadie and ultimately selecting the same dress she initially bought has been an actual plot on several sitcoms.

Si making Willie take him to the pizza shop and staying there until he wins the stuffed animal of his choice came off as stiff an uninspired.

Grandma Kay forcing herself on her grandkids to go bowling was pretty obvious -- especially since you need corporate clearance to film in a place like that before you go in (this complaint could obviously be made about the pizza shop episode, too) .
The worst, though, was taking the wives hunting. These women have been married to these men for
more than a decade – and yet they don’t understand the basics of hunting?

On the flip side, the simple scene of the guys hunting and making Godwin go a long distance away and pretend to be a panther because Si thought he was one was absolutely hilarious.

Losing the lizard in the storeroom and their attempts to catch it was funny.

One of the best episodes in the entire run of the show was them finding the ping pong table when they were cleaning and getting distracted for the afternoon. Sometimes less really IS more.

‘Duck Dynasty’ excels because these people feel real. Forcing them into fish out of water situations that they wouldn’t naturally get themselves into isn’t funny.

Now I hear that the Robertsons are planning a trip to Hawaii – and that definitely has setup written all over it.

Let me guess: The Robertsons try to hunt their own pig, Miss Kay takes over a luau, snorkeling turns ugly, they try to hunt a shark, they go deep sea fishing, Willie freaks out about Sadie's bikini, etc.

The truth is, the ‘Duck Dynasty’ episodes do not have to have structure. We are all perfectly happy to watch these people chatter away in the duck call room, have a donut eating contest or trying to beat the heat by filling Si’s truck with a liner and making it a small pool. 

You don’t have to manufacture things for the Robertsons to do. We’re willing to watch them do nothing – and it will probably be more entertaining than forcing the situation.

What do you think? Do you think ‘Duck Dynasty’ is suffering this season?


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