The ''Duck Dynasty'' drama

By Lynette Rice
Updated March 08, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST

A show about a family that runs a successful duck-call business may not sound like something that would capture the zeitgeist. But A&E’s Duck Dynasty, a reality series about lovable bearded millionaires from Louisiana, just attracted the network’s biggest audience yet (8.6 million) for its season 3 premiere on Feb. 27. The debut may have benefited from a Morrissey protest (he canceled his Feb. 26 Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance after he found out members of Dynasty‘s Robertson family were set to appear), but A&E won’t give the singer/animal rights activist all the credit. ”We have built huge awareness,” says A&E president Robert DeBitetto, citing the show’s nearly 4 million Facebook followers. ”These kinds of shows don’t come out of thin air. A lot of work went into it.” DeBitetto thinks A&E — which is already talking to the Robertsons about other show possibilities — may have stumbled onto a new reality trend: nice-guy TV. ”We haven’t had to resort to things that have worked well for others. It doesn’t rely on a lot of negativity and bad behavior.”