Why would anyone want to keep up with the Kardashians?

Posted May 30

I grew up in Calabasas, California, which is also where Kris Jenner, mother of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” crew, lives. The fact that a good portion of the show is filmed in my hometown was my excuse for watching an episode. An old friend of mine had told me that it’s worth watching to see Calabasas landmarks on TV, so I watched an episode with the hope that perhaps Kim Kardashian and Kanye West might pay a visit to my childhood home or something.

For the record, they didn’t. Maybe they will next week. I’ll never know. I’m never going to voluntarily waste any more time on the show again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not immune to the guilty pleasures of so-called “reality” television. I got in on the ground floor 20 years ago when MTV launched “The Real World,” when a bunch of beautiful 20-somethings voted on whether to kick a surly bike messenger named Puck out of their house. I loved “The Osbournes” because heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne turned out to be a doddering fussbudget whose misadventures were entertaining to watch. And any show where people race around the world or have to survive in the wild is diverting enough to hold my attention every now and again.

Yet the Kardashians left me baffled. As I slogged through the episode, which consisted of Kim K. moving out of her mother’s house and Rob K. using Instagram to make fun of the healthy food his mother bought for him, I kept wondering what it was that I was supposed to be keeping up with.

Honestly, this is it? This is the show that presages the decline and fall of Western civilization?

People rail on the Kardashians because they’re supposedly awful human beings, but nothing I saw was particularly morally repugnant or offensive. It was just 40 minutes about coordinating schedules with moving vans and stuff. Those are the kinds of things that bore me to tears when I have to do them in my own life. Why would I want to watch other people do them, even if those other people do them in houses that are much more expensive than mine?

Seriously, I didn’t get it at all. All I saw was a bunch of fairly ordinary people doing fairly ordinary things. Nothing they said was particularly compelling or insightful, but it also was neither sleazy nor depraved. While they may have gained their notoriety for past depravity, now that they’re famous enough to have their own show, we get to watch them go grocery shopping and get their stomachs tightened by a cosmetic dermatologist. That was actually mildly interesting, as I didn’t know stomach tightening was a thing. But, really, it’s not much of a thing. You get to see a bunch of ladies sitting around and chatting about the weather while an oversized CPAP machine sits on their guts.

Be still, my beating heart.

It’s impossible to escape the irony that the only reason that anyone wants to watch these people is because they’re wealthy and pretty, yet the only reason they’re wealthy and pretty is that they’re being paid so people can watch them. Which came first, the Kardashian chicken or the Kardashian egg? After all, if the E! Network paid me that much money, I could get my stomach tightened, too. Certainly I’d be much wealthier and prettier than I am now. And all of you could tune in the week after my stomach tightening to see my bimonthly nose-hair waxing. (Yes, that’s a thing, too. And it’s one I’ve actually done. Be grateful nobody was filming me.)

If that sounds boring, then now you know why I’ve kept up with the Kardashians as much as I intend to in this lifetime.

Jim Bennett is a recovering actor, theater producer and politico, and he writes about pop culture and politics at his blog, stallioncornell.com.


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