According to Entertainment Weekly, Duck Dynasty will be back on A&E with new episodes starting January 15, and those episodes will include star Phil Robertson, who now appears to not be suspended from the show, despite A&E’s earlier comments.
The controversy leading to the suspension began when Robertson did an interview with GQ magazine and the topic of homosexuality arose. A religious man, Robertson expressed how he believes that homosexuality conflicts with his beliefs and that homosexuals, as well as the drunk, greedy, slanderous, and those who swindle, adulterate, and idolize will not be granted entrance to heaven.
Robertson was only getting started. He went on to say that homosexuality just wasn’t right, and later compared it to terrorism and bestiality while saying that he couldn’t understand how as a man, another man could sexually be more desirable than a woman.
After outrage was sparked in the LGBT community by his comments, A&E reported that they were suspending Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on an indefinite basis, but that they had not planned to fire him from the show.
Before the controversy, nine of the 10 upcoming episodes of Duck Dynasty had already been shot, and a source from inside the series revealed that there are no plans to cut any footage, which means that the patriarch of the Robertson family will remain included in the series after all.
“Time heals a lot of wounds,” an insider said of the controversy. After the holiday break, it is expected that the show will regroup and see what frenzy is stronger—those opposing Robertson and his views, or the rage of the fans of the show who demand Robertson back.
Fans of the show who protested Robertson’s exclusion from the series were bolstered when the Robertson family said that they would not continue the show without their outspoken leader. Many fans rushed out to buy Duck Dynasty gear from Walmart to support the family’s unity in refusing to film without Robertson despite A&E’s decision. It was pointed out, however, that in buying Duck Dynasty swag from Walmart, which carries a huge variety of merchandise from the show including T-shirts and camo everything, would only be putting additional money into A&E’s pocket.
Other sponsors of Duck Dynasty are holding off on withdrawing their support from Robertson, including the well-known clothing brand Under Armour. While the company made it clear to the Business Journal that they do not follow the same beliefs as Robertson and that they are committed to inclusion and diversity as well as treating people equally, they will still continue to be a sponsor of the show.
Robertson also found a surprise supporter in Bristol Palin, who recently posted on her blog that everyone should leave Robertson alone and that he was only expressing his beliefs.
The merchandizing of Duck Dynasty has reportedly raked in over $400 million in retail sales and the show itself averages no fewer than 14.6 million viewers per episode, making it the most popular reality show of all time. With this gross and popularity, it seems unlikely that star Phil Robertson will stay suspended from Duck Dynasty for more than the non-filming holiday.
By Marisa Corley