Credit: Gurney Productions / A&E

The watercooler chatter around Phil Robertson’s controversial anti-gay remarks has slowed in the last couple of weeks and things seem to have gone back to normal for the A&E reality family. But leading up to last night’s premiere of Duck Dynasty’s fifth season, many people were skeptical as to whether the mega hit would retain its impressive ratings from last season. So how’d they fair?

Well, there’s good news and bad news. Starting with the bad, though the double episode showing brought in an impressive 8.5 million viewers (almost unheard of for cable shows today), its fourth season premiere in August had over 3 million more viewers, with 11.8 million. That’s a drop of 28 percent — though to be fair, the summer debut set a record for the most-watched non-fiction series telecast in cable history.

Now the somewhat reassuring news for execs (and fans) is that the numbers are still similar to those Duck Dynasty was bringing in in the fall: between 7 and 8 million. What that indicates is that the controversy (which happened in December) hasn’t really had any immediate effect, positive or negative. Any theories that the media buzz would raise ratings were also proven false.

Finally, a good sign for the Robertson clan and A&E is that the numbers are actually up from the October finale, which closed out with 8.4 million viewers. It’s not by much, like we said, but it is a sign that they’re still able to grow.

So there you have it! We’re guessing that A&E is feeling pretty happy happy happy today.

Are you surprised by these ratings or did you predict it would happen this way? Tell us below. 

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Samantha Lear is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!