If Robertson or any of his co-stars have ever expressed any similar sentiments on camera before, the "Duck Dynasty" producers have been sure they were left on the editing room floor. Robertson has complained to magazines in the past that producers cut references to Jesus out of the show (a claim which A&E subsequently denied).
"Duck Dynasty" owes some of its success to how well it fits into family oriented reality TV show conventions – making it not unlike "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" – and even if you've never shot a gun or stepped foot in the Louisiana swamplands, the familial love among the Robertsons as depicted on screen is just relatable enough.
"The show presents this persona of hardworking, God-fearing, just plain folk without some of the dicier parts that come with that category,"' Thompson says. "You want them to be the charming backwoods folk, not the scary backwoods folk."
But underneath the camouflage overalls and forest–like beards runs an undercurrent of social conservative philosophy. Robertson also has been outspoken against abortion, and the family has endorsed Republican politicians. And even if not explicitly political, much of the (less controversial) press coverage the Robertsons have received has focused on their family devotion and their resounding Christian faith – unlike other liberal, secular Hollywood stars.
As Salon's Daniel D'Addario put it, that DOMA-era line of social conservative thought was always present within "Duck Dynasty," but the "subtext becomes text" in the GQ interview. If that's the case, will Robertson's views really be enough to shock the show's most loyal fans into changing the channel? And if viewership does go down, will it be because of his comments, or because the show suffers the same fate of viewer disinterest as other reality fads gone before?
"No matter what happens to the ratings, it's going to be hard to determine what role [the interview] played into it," Thompson says.
Corrected on : Updated 12/18/13: This article has been updated to reflect a statement from A&E.