It seems what the producers intended and what A&E envisioned with the show is much different than the show that they ended up with, but they didn’t do anything about it because it was so wildly popular and so wildly profitable. But even with all the money, they have never really been comfortable with what happened.
This is what happened. The whole idea of the show was to parade these nouveau riche Christian hillbillies around so that we could laugh at them. “Look at them,” we were supposed to say. “Look how backward they are! Look what they believe! Can you believe they really live this way and believe this stuff? See how they don’t fit in? HAHAHA”
When the producers saw the way the show was shaping up, different than they envisioned it, they tried to change course. They tried to get the Robertson’s to tone down their Christianity, but to their eternal credit they refused. They tried to add fake cussin’ to the show by inserting bleeps where no cussword was uttered. At best, they wanted to make the Robertson’s look like crass buffoons. At worst they wanted them to look like hypocrites.
They desperately wanted us to laugh at the Robertsons. Instead, we loved them.
I figured this was what was going on.
I suspect that the folks at A&E, who always disliked the positive Christian message in the show of which Phil is the primary proponent, saw their chance. They want to keep the cash but dial down the Christianity. With Phil out, perhaps they could get the show they always wanted.
I suspect that the Robertsons are more principled than that and A&E will end up disappointed on many levels. The Roberstons are who they are and I suspect the money means a great deal more to A&E than it does to them.
It will be interesting to see whether A&E likes the money more than they hate the Christianity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hate wins.