Just in time for the Iowa caucuses comes the return of the Robertson clan. A&E said today that Season 9 of Duck Dynasty will premiere January 13 with back-to-back episodes starting at 9 PM. The season will wrap February 17 with a one-hour 100th episode featuring a family road trip to move John Luke and Mary Kate into Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.
The nine-episode new season of the once-juggernaut reality show follows the Robertsons as they face new challenges with their unique, take on Southern living. Willie and Alan agree to help Miss Kay open up her own bakery, Jase gets up close and personal with his in-laws, Willie recruits family members to settle an old dodgeball score, pro wrestler Kurt Angle helps Jep with his wrestling, and the ladies challenge the men to a high-stakes frogging competition.
The series from Gurney Productions broke records with its Season 4 premiere in August 2013, drawing 11.8 million viewers to become the biggest nonfiction series telecast in cable history. But its numbers began to decline after a scandal erupted over anti-gay remarks made by patriarch Phil Robertson in a magazine article. A&E swiftly suspended him but faced an immediate backlash from irate viewers and other members of the clan, who said they “cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch.” The cable net lifted the suspension two weeks later. But the Season 5 premiere in January 2014 drew 8.5 million viewers, down 28% from the previous season bow — the show’s first year-to-year decline. A week later, viewership was down another 21%.