Almost exactly 10 years ago, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” the reality TV show that has turned a family into an empire, aired for the first time. Mention of the Kardashians stirs up mixed reactions. Some will grunt in disgust while others will giddily discuss the details of their latest drama. But one thing is undeniable — anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows the Kardashian name.
Kris: She tried to trademark the word “momager” in 2015. Many people see her as the brains behind the Kardashian empire. Mother to Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Rob, Kendall and Kylie.
Kim: Alpha-Kardashian. Popularized the phrase “break the internet.” Original claim to fame: sex tape with singer Ray J. Currently married to Kanye West.
Kourtney: Oldest Kardashian sister. Her on-and-off relationship with Scott Disick was major story arc in several seasons of the show.
Khloe: The ‘real’ Kardashian. Tells it like it is. Married and divorced ex-NBA player Lamar Odom.
Kendall: The model. Tried to distance herself and make it on her own in the fashion industry. Third highest-paid supermodel in the world, according to Forbes.
Kylie: The youngest Kardashian. Make-up company entrepreneur. Famous for lip enhancements. Has her own reality show.
Caitlyn: Was married to Kris; parent to Kendall and Kylie. Had her own reality show for a minute.
Rob: The forgotten Kardashian. Has a baby with Blac Chyna, Kylie’s ex-boyfriend Tyga’s ex-fiancé. Also had his own reality show for a minute.
Having started off as a strategic PR move to capitalize off of the media buzz around Kim and Ray J’s sex tape, the Kardashians have grown to become pop culture icons and arguably the most recognized family in the world. Throughout the “Kardashian Decade,” the moguls have diversified their businesses across various reality shows, retail stores, apps, books, cosmetics brands and clothing lines. With collectively over 400 million Instagram followers, the Kardashians have one of the largest platforms of anyone in the public eye. So, how did we get here? Why do we keep watching? And what does it mean that the ‘family who is famous for doing nothing’ has such a wide reach?
Last week, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the show, E! aired a 90-minute special looking back at the highlights of the “Kardashian Decade.” In the show, Kris Jenner, the matriarch and manager of the clan, illuminates an important factor to Kardashian success by noting that when the show premiered, the “cast” ranged from age 7 to 60. Portraying family members at various stages in life meant that there was some relatable aspect of the show for everyone. To add to that, the closeness of the family and the way fans are taken inside their home in a seemingly candid way creates a connection between viewers and the family. It’s as if we know them, and we know what to expect each time we come back.
And why do we keep coming back? It is nice to switch off and watch as the sisters aim to prank each other. It is intriguing to be included in overseas fashion shoots, decorating mansions, and flying in private jets. It makes the American Dream seem alive and waiting just beyond the screen. Through divorce, pregnancy, birth, parenting, birthdays, graduations and weddings, we have truly been part of every step of the Kardashian road. So, in a way, with every end of an episode, when the sisters make up over a misunderstanding that caused drama and summarize what they learned in cheesy interviews, we walk away feeling hopeful that everything will continue to be okay.
Perhaps there is no deeper meaning or explanation for Kardashian domination. But it is impossible not to realize that the world is a different place since we were introduced to the “family who is famous for doing nothing” in 2007. Who knows what the next 10 years will bring in the Kardashians, but I for one hope they will realize the magnitude of their impact and use it for good (beyond selling lip kits and detox tea).