I’m not ashamed to say I’m a big fan of KUWTK. While repulsive to some, I quite like seeing what the sisters are up to, who they’re wearing, who they’re dating and what product they’re launching next. It’s fun, it’s silly and it’s a piece of escapism while I sit daydreaming about an LA mansion from my tiny London one-bed.
But its cancellation has brought about some reflection on why KUWTK just simply doesn’t work nowadays. For a start, 2020 is probably one of the weakest year’s in the sisters’ lives through no fault of their own – COVID-19 halted all plans they had.
While we’re all sitting in a global lockdown, do we want to watch other people doing the same? Probably not. But the problems with Keeping Up go a little deeper than that – we can’t blame everything on 2020, after all.
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The premise of KUWTK was always simple. In homage to The Osbournes, let’s follow an equally-unique family comprising of Kris, Caitlyn (then Bruce), Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Rob, Kendall and Kylie around as they go about their daily lives.
At the time, Kim’s celebrity status was starting to sky rocket following her sex tape leak, and she was hanging out at the coolest parties with the likes of Paris Hilton who she worked on The Simple Life with. Ah, the 2000s.
Throughout the early years (which are now on Netflix), we become familiar with Kim as she battles with Kris over what level of taste her photoshoots should be at and see her start to emerge as a fully valid celebrity.
Kourt is dating Scott Disick, who Caitlyn (then Bruce) isn’t particularly fond of at the time, Khloe is starting to step away from her wild-child persona (but still slips back every now and then), while Rob works out what it is he wants to do in life. Kendall and Kylie are barely recognisable school kids who like to cause mischief – worlds away from the supermodel and businesswoman we see today.
Back then, social media and the influencer generation was far in the future. This was just a normal family going about their day and surprises came around every corner. Kim took selfies while Khloe was in prison. Kourtney couldn’t hide her savagery literally at all. A very young Kendall schooled Kris on where money comes from.
But as time went on, the drama got bigger. Gone were the days of Kim crying over a lost diamond earring and we entered a new chapter punctuated by events like Tristan Thompson cheating on Khloe a couple of days before she gave birth to their daughter, True.
The families got bigger too. From across the group, we had 10 new children, countless friends came and went and, by our estimations, at least 15 partners did too. It’s almost impossible to name everyone they’re associated with in some form and following the various strands is exhausting. Don’t even get me started on the Keeping Up spin-offs.
The problem with KUWTK, unfortunately, stems from their own success. As the show got bigger, so did their social media following – and so did the paparazzi interest in them.
Sadly, “spoilers” became a very real thing. When Tristan cheated on Khloe, it was all over the news – in fact, the way the soon-to-be-mum found out was via the media.
Very quickly, the filming delay meant that actually we, as viewers, were Keeping Up with the Kardashians before the show aired. Often, any problems had been resolved and we just saw how it happened at the time.
The real drama was – and still is – taking place on Instagram, Twitter, and in the tabloids. The need for a show providing insight into celebrities’ lives when you have people that famous soon disappears.
Just as they made the reality genre what it is today, they are ultimately victims of their own success. Kris can no longer encourage her girls to open up on heartbreak, heartache and new ventures because they’re either doing it themselves or the media is talking about it.
My personal desire to keep up with the family, prompting an excessive amount of social media scrolling, is in part what’s killed the show, the very reason I even know about these sisters in the first place.
Now, will I even be able to keep up with them at all?
Keeping Up with the Kardashians seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix. You can also watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians on hayu, who is currently offering a free one month trial.