Photo provided by Duck Commander -- Cast members of 'Duck Dynasty' pose with the newest member, Alan Robertson, left, who made his debut on the hit A&E show that garnered 11.8 million viewers during the premiere.

Russell A. Graves

As the patriarch of “Duck Dynasty,” the popular reality TV show about a West Monroe family that produces designer duck calls and decoys, Phil Robertson preached the old-fashioned agrarian values of hard work and standing on your own two feet.

But as with most so-called “reality” shows, fact and illusion on “Dynasty” have kept close company. Although the “Dynasty” crew preached self-sufficiency, the production stands to exit the airwaves with millions of dollars in lavish government giveaways, thanks to a state film tax credit program that, as a whole, has given the entertainment industry much more money than it generated in tax revenue.

State records reveal that if the credits for “Duck Dynasty” were cashed in, Louisiana taxpayers would owe $14 million in subsidies for the show. To date, $464,265 in credits have been issued for the show’s first season. The Robertson family recently announced that “Dynasty” will end next April.

If state officials hoped to buy good publicity by writing big checks to people like Phil Robertson, their plans apparently backfired. In an infamous interview with GQ magazine, Robertson disparaged gay people and said that black people “were happy” in the Jim Crow South. His comments advanced a Louisiana brand that seemed minted in the middle of the last century.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers, facing a sea of red ink in the state budget, dramatically scaled back the film credits program. Long after “Duck Dynasty” has left the air, taxpayers will be grappling with the legacy of a loony boondoggle that, in its far-fetched premise, would have probably made a great reality show of its own.