Fans of Cracker Barrel merchandise and bearded swamp men can breathe a sigh of relief: after a tense eight days of suspension, Phil Robertson, America's patron saint of duck calls, will be allowed to return to filming Duck Dynasty for the roughly 11.8 million viewers who regularly tune in to the A&E reality show.
In a statement posted to Deadline today, A+E Networks responded to criticism of their star, saying:
While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
Duck Dynasty may not be a show about one man's views, but that same family was quick to stick to their guns when they defended Phil's sermonizing. The show also happens to be the most-watched nonfiction show on cable, so of course the network will give the people what they want.
As a refresher, Robertson said some weird things about "a man's anus" and implied that "homosexual behavior" was a slippery slope to bestiality, adultery and general "sleeping around." He also claimed black people were perfectly happy before Civil Rights came to Louisiana. For what it's worth, an August poll found that more than half of Louisiana Duck Dynasty fans support civil unions or gay marriage.