Don’t know about you, but Dec. 11, when the Duck Dynasty Christmas special aired, sure seems like a long time ago. Since then the show that just about everybody and their grandma could agree was a bright spot in the dark cloud that is reality TV has undergone quite a transformation. Phil Robertson’s comments in a GQ profile regarding his thoughts on homosexuality and the effect of the civil rights movement on African-Americans turned A&E’s biggest show into a lightning rod of controversy. Suspensions, boycotts, protests, calls for protests and extreme levels of righteous indignation on both sides has threatened to take away the simple pleasures of watching the Robertson family do their thing. But thankfully Duck Dynasty Season 5 is upon us, so hopefully we can all just go back to laughing at Uncle Si.
Here are 5 things you need to know going into the new season, which premieres with two new episodes starting at 10pm Wednesday, Jan. 15, on A&E:
1) What controversy?
Production on Season 5 was pretty much complete when the quack hit the fan, so viewers will not see any sign of anything out of the ordinary. Even after Phil was initially suspended by A&E — for telling GQ that homosexuality was “not logical,” and also getting very anatomical in his descriptions — the episodes were going to contain the full cast.
2) Howdy, Rebecca
A new Robertson will join the cast this season, 24-year-old Rebecca Robertson, who first came to live with the family as an exchange student from Taiwan. Viewers meet her as she’s returning from an internship in Los Angeles, and worries Willie that she’s now planning to just be one of those lazy millennials living off their parents. But in reality — not “reality,” like the show — Rebecca is quite the entrepreneur, heading up a clothing boutique, Duck & Dressing, with Korie that’s set to launch this year. Will she make much of an impact and be involved in the story lines, or prove to be more of a bit player like Alan was in Season 4?
3) Ratings are going to be huuuuge
This isn’t really groundbreaking, and ratings were already big before the controversy — 14 million viewers — but it’s hard to think all the controversy won’t lead to an all-time haul of eyeballs on Jan. 15. Advertising dollars already surpass most broadcast network hits, with 30-second spots going for as much as $170,000 to $180,000. Will it last beyond that? Who knows, but that first night back will get everyone back in the mood to talk controversy that it’s not unthinkable to imagine the show hitting 20 million viewers.
4) Si Goes GoPro
In what has to be one of the more meta turns in the show’s history, Si will discover a GoPro, those wearable cameras that let you record your life in high definition. After seeing some footage Jep shoots with one, Si decides it’d be fun to use it to record a day in his life. That’s right, a guy who is already one of the most popular reality TV stars in the world thinks he needs to record his life, while cameras are already recording him. Hey Jack, whatever works.
A highlight of the season promises to be Willie and Jase’s burger cook-off, which comes about after the forever-feuding brothers visit a popular burger joint and start debating who is the better burger chef. The judges are Martin and Godwin, impartial parties if ever there were any, with Si as the official. Here’s my guess: somehow Jep will win.