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‘Duck Dynasty’ stars: On racism, beauty pageants and more in ‘At Home with the Robertsons’ show



MONROE, La. – Four years after A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” went off the air, Willie and Korie Robertson are back with a new Facebook Watch series.

“At Home with the Robertsons” is sprinkled with the same homespun humor for which the former Louisiana-shot reality series was known, but the new project takes a much more serious tone, tackling hot-button, culturally dividing topics.

The Robertsons advance these critical conversations and seek some common ground with extended family gathered around the dining table.

While “Duck Dynasty” followed the life and work of the Phil and Kay Robertson clan, of West Monroe, and their duck call manufacturing empire, “At Home” is centered on son Willie, 48, his wife Korie, 47, and their offspring.

Each week, these Robertsons invite different celebrities to trade views and offer perspectives on a specific subject. Two episodes are released each week — Monday’s segment focuses on the celebrity guest, while in Thursday’s episode, extended family members stop by to weigh in on that week’s topic.

In the premiere episode, Yandy Smith-Harris and Mendeecees Harris, of “Love and Hip-hop,” and the Robertsons talked about racism and raising a Black son in America. The Robertsons have an adopted biracial son, Will. Last week, Korie Robertson and daughter Sadie traded thoughts with former “Bachelorette” Hannah Brown on whether beauty pageants are harmful to women. The lighter side of the half-hour episode featured the women testing their muscles chopping firewood.

Future episodes will include former NFL player Tim Tebow and wife, Demi, and former football long snapper and U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer.

Just before their series’ debut, we caught up with Korie and Willie Robertson to talk about their new venture, their family and COVID. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Why do a Facebook Watch show and why now?

Korie: Well, I think we talk about social media causing a division in our world and in our country, and I think that social media, just like anything else, is kind of what you make it. And what we’re wanting to do on this show is just to actually use it for good and to bring people together. We’re having some tough conversations, some things that sometimes people just might turn off and be like, “OK, I’m not going to even listen to you if you think differently than I do,” but for us I think it’s just important to bring people into our home and sit down and listen and have a conversation. A lot of times when that happens you do learn something, and you grow greater empathy or love for the other person’s position. That’s kind of how we do it within our family.

Do you two determine the topics? Does anyone else have input?

Willie: Yeah, we work with Facebook obviously on that and also our production company, Texas Crew, and we just talk about what the hot topics out there are. Some of them match exactly with our family — we talk about raising Black children in America, which Korie and I have an adopted child that’s biracial; also we talk about Asian racism — we have another daughter that’s Asian. So some of those just hit us right where we are with our family. And some of the things are, you know, we had a vegan chef come in, and we talked about him being vegan and we talked about how we ate meat and see where we could meet in the middle on that.  We just try to find topics that we think will be interesting, that could divide people or have divided people, and we take a whirl at it … and we try to be hospitable and kind to them and listen and maybe we make little changes where we can and, as Americans, hopefully, we start getting along a little better.

Will you be bringing on other family members from “Duck Dynasty?”

Korie: Yes, we brought in some other family members. Uncle Si (Robertson, Phil’s brother and arguably the funniest of the “Dynasty” bunch) was on a couple of episodes with us. Miss Kay joined us for one. And (Justin) Martin and (John) Godwin joined us. So yeah, I think as it continues, we’ll bring more parts of the family along for the ride.

Do you think maybe you’d bring your dad (Phil Robertson) on to see if some of his views have changed on any of the topics for which his prior opinions have drawn criticism (including anti-gay, racist and ISIS comments) ?

Willie: (Laughs). I don’t know which one of his views has changed but, yeah, we’d certainly be open to that, having Phil on to discuss things, as schedule permits. Phil’s actually busy, he’s the only one that kept doing TV. He’s got more podcasts and shows than any of the rest of us, which is funny to me ’cause I don’t know that he ever liked doing that, and he’s still writing books. And he’s certainly opinionated. I think, yeah, we may get Phil on, and he and I may tie into it just as much as our guests.

Korie: But I do think that’s a big part of what makes us right for this show is because we do live in a big family. … You know I think part of what has maybe gone wrong in our culture is that, if I disagree with somebody I can’t even sit at a table with you. Or if I disagree, I just unfollow you or I just can’t listen to you. I think part of living in a big family teaches you that. … We can all still live together and get along even though we disagree.

What did you find most challenging about raising your son, Will?

Willie: We really didn’t treat him any differently. Kind of what we heard from our guests, you know, they grew up differently so they viewed things differently than what we do here in West Monroe. We treated Will not as a biracial child, we just treated him as a child, and he’s done good. … But he was able to gather advice and wisdom from another couple who have several children as well, and they gave him advice on the way they see the world.

How many episodes have been filmed? How many are planned?

Korie: We’ve done eight weeks, 16 episodes in all, and then we’ll see how it goes, see what people like about it or don’t like about it or if they want us to continue.

How has your family fared during the coronavirus pandemic?

Korie: We did have COVID back in October, and it was not fun. Uncle Si even got COVID and we were very concerned for him, but he came through it. We’re very thankful for that. I think Uncle Si has a new lease on life now that he survived COVID.

Willie: Yeah, he talks about that on the show. And I am fully vaccinated now, so hopefully we’re moving on, our whole state and country will move past this. We look forward to more of the restrictions being lifted as the cases drop. But living here, we were able to get out in the woods. Kay and Phil both have been vaccinated. Although, for Phil, I caught him a couple of months into the quarantine and I said, “Phil are you doing OK in the quarantine?” and he said, “Well, I’ve been quarantining for about three decades.” I think life for him went on just like it normally would.

Korie: I’m still counting on my antibodies from having COVID, but I will be (vaccinated) soon.

What would you want viewers to take away from the show?

Korie: I really hope that it will be a unifying show. And also hope that people will just listen. A lot of times some of our disagreements come from just not listening to the other side of the other person where if we do listen we’re like, ‘Oh, we’re actually more alike than we are different.”

Willie: They’ve been a lot of battles going on the last several years with each other internally in this country, so hopefully we can start creating some bright spots.