Duck Dynasty is getting serious.
When the A&E show ends its fifth season Wednesday night, it will focus on Mia Robertson, the 10-year-old daughter of Jase and Missy Robertson, who was born with a cleft palate and received corrective surgery, which is documented in the show.
“You’re gonna go from gut-wrenching laughter to crying, because it’s very sweet,” Missy tells PEOPLE.
Adds Jase: “I was never an emotional guy until I had a daughter who had problems. When you hand your daughter off to some doctors and you know they’re going to cut on her, that’s tough. I lost it. So much for not being emotional.”
Were the Robertsons worried about putting their daughter out for public scrutiny?
“Of course, that was a worry,” says Jase. “There have been times when kids made fun of her for how she looks. We’ve had to have some serious talks about it.”
The Robertsons formed the Mia Moo Fund, whose slogan is “Because Every Kid Deserves A Smile,” to raise awareness and help children with similar problems.
“We hope that after the episode, people will connect with us even more,” says Missy. “I wrote a song with Gary Chapman about it, and Mia sings on it. It’s called ‘Angel Child’ … I hope it shows our hearts.”
After the Controversy
One of the biggest struggles for the past year: the uproar after family patriarch Phil Robertson made controversial comments about race and homosexuality.
“For those of us who were there for the interview, we knew what was happening,” says Jase. “I was uneasy right off the bat.”
Continues Jase: “We felt like the guy doing the interview kind of inflamed things and took them out of context. You don’t have to agree with someone to love them, and my dad loves all people, regardless of their race and sexual orientation. He said that in the interview, which went on for four hours. But that didn’t make the final story, of course.”
Robertson bristles slightly when the talk turns to race.
“That was just ridiculous,” he says. “My dad is the most non-racist person I’ve ever been around my entire life. We were taught at an early age that you don’t base any kind of opinion on people’s external appearance. Everyone was made by God. That was the part that made us a little mad, to make it sound like my father is a racist.”
He continues: “I’ve shed my blood in school, having fights taking up for kids who were different, who people made fun of. That’s how we were raised.”
Adds Missy: “I think this is good because it’s gotten people to talk about some serious issues. Everything is an opportunity for learning and understanding.”
With the controversy behind them, the Robertsons are beginning to film next season of the show.
“We’re going to keep doing what we do,” says Jase. “People will have their opinions about us, but we’re just trying to do the right thing. We’re really thankful to the people who have supported us through everything. We have met a lot of great people.”
The Robertsons say that Duck Dynasty has a higher purpose than just entertainment.
“There are a lot of people with problems out there,” says Jase. “Sometimes, we’ll meet some of them who’ll say ‘I’m so glad your show is on, because despite my lowest moments, I have something to chuckle about.’ We’re a healthy distraction, you know. That’s what we want to be.”