"Duck Dynasty" kicks off its fifth season Wednesday night and critics are predicting huge ratings thanks to the A&E series' diehard fans and those whose interest was piqued by the Phil Robertson anti-gay controversy last month.
The future of the reality show, which chronicles the lives of the Robertson family and their Louisiana duck call business, seemed unclear last month though when patriarch Phil Robertson made his comments likening homosexuality to bestiality and blaming gays for the downfall of society in an interview with GQ magazine.
Succumbing to public pressure, A&E suspended Robertson for nine days but lifted the punishment after fans rallied around the show
. The suspension won't affect the new season at all, as the show wasn't filming at the time.
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Experts say the publicity from the controversy could help boost ratings.
"Staying in the press tends to extend the shelf life of reality series," Sam Armando, senior vice president at media firm SMGx, recently told The Hollywood Reporter
. "I'm not convinced it's going to miss a beat at all."
The season four premiere last summer broke records and became the most watched nonfiction cable series in history.
The "Duck Dynasty" faithful took to Twitter Wednesday to voice their excitement for the premiere.
"Duck Dynasty" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on A&E.
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