Duck Dynasty has returned for a fifth season but feelings are still mixed over Phil Robertson's return to the show. Phil was suspended in December due to comments made in an interview with GQ magazine about homosexuality and Jim Crow laws. However, intense backlash from conservatives and Robertson-supporters has caused A&E to reconsider his suspension. After a few weeks off the show, A&E stated that Phil would be returning to Duck Dynasty in the new season, which premiered earlier this month.
As the network explained to Fox News, "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…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."
Some are relieved by A&E's change in stance, and are excited for the TV series to return with all of its family members. Hollywood Reporter quoted Twitter posts about the decision, posts that commend A&E for their tolerance of religious views and upholding free speech. Other viewers are just excited to get the show back for its good laughs and family friendly atmosphere.
However, many are still outraged with Robertson's GQ interview, and feel that A&E are not taking the situation seriously enough. Many higher-level executives at both ABC and CBS do not agree with A&E's change in position. Fox reports that several people in these networks believe that Duck Dynasty is setting a bad standard for future A&E stars: let them do or say whatever they want about whoever they want and get away with it.
Whichever side you fall on, the ratings are beginning to speak for themselves. Duck Dynasty was down to a rating of 2.5 in the 18-49 year old range last week, an age group that determines the survival of the show on the air. Season premiere views were down as well, only 8.5 million for season five compared to the striking 12 million of season four. While it may be too early to tell, hopes are not high that Duck Dynasty will ever fully bounce back to its former glory, the numbers are just not in their favor.