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Zach Dilgard, Associated Press
This 2012 photo released by A&E shows, from left, Phil Robertson, Jase Robertson, Si Robertson and Willie Robertson from the A&E series "Duck Dynasty."

Reality TV show “Duck Dynasty” is a veritable ratings monolith. To wit: The program’s Aug. 14 season 4 premiere attracted 11.8 million viewers — “the largest audience ever for a nonfiction telecast on cable television,” the New York Times reported. “That total (included) 6.3 million viewers in the advertiser-preferred demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds.”

The popularity of “Duck Dynasty” largely stems from its ability to credibly portray the Christian faith and familial love of the Louisiana-based Robertson clan.

Andy Greenwald, who reports about television for the sports and entertainment website Grantland, recently watched his first episode of “Duck Dynasty.” In his article “All It’s Quacked Up to Be,” he wrote, “I expected artificial sweetener and was surprised to find real sugar.”

“(The show’s) unpreachy but insistent message of Christianity and family values and its refusal to equate the simple life with being simple-minded (is) anachronistic,” Greenwald continued. “It's a delicate line … but the truth is, no one, not the shock merchants at Fox or the boundary-pushers at HBO, has ever been able to tamper with television's universal secret sauce: We like watching people who like each other; we're only able to truly invest in a show that is invested in the relationships between its characters; and all successful series are, in essence, about family.”

Earlier this month the Deseret News’ Sarah Petersen reported, “The Robertson family hasn't been shy about living their faith on their hit TV reality show, ‘Duck Dynasty.’ In fact, the show has become known for ending each episode at the dinner table as a family, in prayer.”

The Christian Post recently published an article that revisited an Aug. 1 interview in which two of the stars of “Duck Dynasty,” Jase and Missy Robertson, spoke openly about their belief in and adherence to abstinence before marriage.

“We were both virgins when we got married until our wedding night,” Jase Robertson said. “We decided to do it God's way and basically had a godly agreement that we would help each other get to heaven.”

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the “Duck Dynasty” viewership skews heavily toward a GOP demographic: “Republicans were about 50 percent more likely to tune in to the season premiere than Democrats, and Republicans who always vote in statewide elections were almost twice as likely to tune in than were Democrats.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com