It's hard putting your whole life on display in a reality show: your private life quickly becomes a public spectacle, fans recognize you when you walk down the street, and it's easy to get lost in the fame. But for one reality television family, it's all about remaining true to their roots and not go by the way of other famous attention-seekers. "We’re trying to get out of this without acting like Charlie Sheen," says Phil Robertson, star of A&E's hit reality show Duck Dynasty and author of Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander. "We’re trying to keep out sanity. We always tell each other, ‘Remember, you’re beginning to act like Charlie Sheen.' [And then we] back off a little bit," he tells Hollywood.com.
It's this very "sanity" that holds the clan together and also sets them apart from other reality TV families out there like the Kardashians or the Duggars. "It’s a functional family and they love one another," says the Robertson family patriarch. "The disintegration of the American family is a known fact, [so] we’re just trying to get people to love god, love each other, and not be so mean to one another."
In fact, as fans often see on the show, the Robertson family spends much of their time bonding outdoors , leaving little time for television. Robertson himself rarely watches TV unless it is to check out something on the Weather Channel, the Military Channel, or to "catch a little Fox News from time to time." He says he had never even watched a reality show like The Real Housewives until A&E approached him about doing his own show. "A&E said, You aught to look at a few of them, Mr. Robertson, and just see what you think,'" he recalls. "I was not very impressed by them."
But Robertson's eldest son, Alan, does like to watch one popular show (a scripted one, at that) with his mother, Mrs. Kay: The Walking Dead. Not unlike the characters on The Walking Dead, the Robertsons live on the rural side, depending on their 1,000 acre property to provide for their family. (Sound a little like Herschel's farm from Season 2, anyone?)
So what would happen if Duck Dynasty were to ever crossover with The Walking Dead? Alan thinks if the actual Robertson family were to be written into the show, "we would be survivors. There’s no doubt about that because coming from a family of hunters, we know what it means to sort of serve on the wagons. And besides we wouldn’t be able to have any shaving stuff because that would be out the window, so the the beards would naturally fit in. You know?"
"We're living that life already," Alan says. "We're just waiting for the zombies to catch up on where we are." His father adds, "If everything goes south and there is a complete and total meltdown and an economic collapse, you would be trying to find people like us because you’re thinking, ‘They’re living large, eating well, and they are all still together.’ We would do well in that kind of environment, trust me."
So, we know how they would fare on the small screen, but what about the big screen? Phil thinks it would be great to see Tommy Lee Jones cast as himself. "Grow some long whiskers... he would make a great me," he says. Alan would also like to cast Billy Bob Thornton play his father's crazy brother, Uncle Si. "He might do a pretty good job," Alan says.
Note to any filmmakers thinking about making this happen: make sure to include those infamous Robertson family dinners. It's these meals where the Robertsons really open up to each other and connect as a family. "As a kid growing up in this family, we all sat down to eat and that's when we all sat around and talked about things," Alan explains. "That's where we learned about life. It's just a great conversation time."
Phil says he would most likely invite Clint Eastwood to do a cameo in this dinner scene or to attend an actual dinner depicted on the show. "I’d like to have old Clint sit down with us, and take him on a duck hunt," he says. "I’d just like to do that with him because he seems like a pretty cool guy."
Hey, a big screen adaptation doesn't seem like far-fetched idea considering Duck Dynasty was the no. 1 rated cable show for the month of April and their audience only keeps getting bigger. But no matter how much fame touches this family, they will always be the same grounded country folk that we have come to love over the past three seasons. "We were all real tight and we all loved one another before the show," Robertson says. "This [just] brought us closer."
Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life And Legacy As The Duck Commander arrives in stores Monday, May 7.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.