To anyone who thinks they don’t like reality television, I say, (in the words of our founder, Mary Kate) “you just haven’t found your poison yet.” Until April of 2015, I prided myself on the fact that I had never seen an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. I used to believe that it was a feat that I had made it through High School and College without being fazed by their glamour. While I never looked down on anyone else for watching for watching the show, it made me feel better to think I was not contributing to our culture’s obsession with a celebrity family who did nothing worthy or genuine (as far as I could tell) to earn their fame.
I watched the the few episodes with my roommates-the current season- so they could answer all my questions: Wait, which one is the oldest? Who is Kris’s favorite? What is her name? Who is actually related? Are Scott and Kourtney married? They have how many kids? Why do they call him ‘Lord?’ How many of them are there? I honestly could not keep their names and faces straight.
Then I got strep throat. I thought it would be a good time to take advantage of my brother’s Hulu+ account and go back to season one of KUWTK. As I kept watching, I was amazed by the things I learned about the Kardashian family and also what I ended up learning about myself. It actually changed the way I think about women in reality television, and women I don’t know in general.
Here’s What I learned about the Kardashian Family:
- They love each other so much. There’s a reason they all spend so much time together. I guess before I watched the show, I assumed that since all reality television seemed fake and scripted, that the Kardashian sisters must secretly hate each other, but they clearly don’t. They play catchphrase, have tickle fights and tackle each other on the floor in their designer clothing, go on spontaneous trips to Paris in their private jet…you know, normal sibling bonding things. They just love spending time with each other in their mansions, which I can never tell apart.
- They have a maintained a semi-normal-given-the-circumstances, genuine family dynamic. Kris worries about her kids. The Kardashian girls were furious when they discovered Kris was smoking cigarettes and came up with a plot to make her quit. They cook for each other and then argue about who has to clean up the dishes. Kim and Kourtney even carried and delivered their own babies. I, ashamedly, thought the Kardashian women were so superficial that they wouldn’t even carry their own babies. I thought they would surely have surrogates so as not to ruin their precious physiques. In one episode in Season 2, Kris, in an attempt to get her family eating healthier, builds a chicken coop for fresh eggs. My own brother has a chicken coop!
- Every woman in that family works really friggin hard. They each own or manage several successful businesses and each maintain a definitive and unique personal brand. Regardless of whether “work” is opening another Dash store, walking down a runway at New York Fashion Week, or flying to Istanbul for 24 hours to make a club appearance before having to fly straight back home, work is work. Last year Kim was interviewed on stage at a Tech conference in regards to her outrageously popular mobile app. The interviewer was female, condescending, and seemed to want Kim to fail based on what she knew about Kim as a reality star. For the record, Kim defended herself as a tech-guru with ease and class. None of the Kardashian ladies’ jobs sound easy, but each one of them is kicking ass.
- They’re really funny, guys. I don’t know how much of what they say is intended to be humorous, but they make me laugh so much.
- Kourtney is always folding baby clothes.
Here’s what the Kardashians taught me about judging women that I don’t know.
Hating on and judging the lives of other women, whether it’s a celebrity or my peer, is not cute, nice or feminist. Turning up my nose to the Kardashian family simply because of their fame did not actually make me better than them, and it certainly did not make them less famous. I’m not saying everyone should watch KUWTK, or that it is the most complex and real programming to grace our televisions. What I do know is that for me, embracing KUWTK has, if anything, only added joy to my life, (see #4.)
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I have to go.
*July 10 Update: Another thing that surprised me about watching KUWTK, is that I have developed real feelings for the family. “Reality” television or not, this is a real family that goes through happy times and painful times. I don’t believe that anyone stays with a romantic partner for 10 years if they don’t love them. My heart aches for every one of them. As a woman, I would never wish heartbreak on anyone.