Although it’s likely not what the Robertson family wanted and almost certainly not what A&E wanted, sources say Duck Dynasty will likely be canceled before the fifth season.
As the Robertsons said in a Thursday statement, they “cannot imagine the show going forward” without patriarch Phil Robertson. Meanwhile, A&E is in relatively uncharted territory after suspending Phil for making what the network called disappointing comments about the LGBT community. With a compromise difficult to imagine, a production source told E! News all of the insiders think the controversy “can’t end well.”
“People who work on the show feel like it’s a big pissing match and there is no way that anyone can win,” a production source said, adding insiders realize the Robertsons won’t compromise their faith or family ties for the sake of the show.
Aside from suspending Phil, A&E seems to walking in the neutral zone: The network is running 35.5 hours worth of Duck Dynasty next week for scheduled Christmas marathons. A&E will also air new season four shows, which include Phil, next year.
It’s where A&E goes from there that’s in question…
“If the network backs down and they bring Phil back, they look weak,” an insider told E! News. “If they stand their ground, the family probably won’t move forward and A&E loses their highest rated show… No one can really imagine the show going forward without Phil. It would be too weird.”
If and when the show is canceled, A&E will likely be more affected than the Robertsons: Duck Dynasty is the network’s all-time most-popular show with viewers regularly surpassing 10 million per episode. On the other hand, the Robertsons are independently wealthy and — at this point — independently popular.