The TV show ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’, which has been going on for 14 years, comes to the screen with its last episode this week.
The show, which was shown in dozens of countries around the world, brought world fame to American tabloid star Kim Kardashian, her mother Kris Jenner and her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie.
The reality show about Kardashian and her family made them very rich. Forbes magazine estimates Kim Kardashian’s net worth at $1 billion.
Whether you like them or not, it’s hard to deny that they influence people.
Here are 7 effects created by the famous family.
1. They were honest and funny
Part of their success comes from their willingness to be candid in front of the camera.
“They consciously and deliberately played themselves,” says Dr Meredith Jones of Brunel University in London, explaining that this originality appeals to audiences.
Specializing in popular culture and gender issues, Dr Jones will host the second Kardashian symposium – aka the Kimposium – this year.
According to him, there are many reasons why the program has so longevity.
“People don’t think the Kardashians are funny, but they’re really good at generating humor,” says Jones.
“While women form a matriarchy, men look goofy, and so in many ways that sounds appealing in a patriarchal society.”
2. They changed their mind on ‘beautiful woman’
“I would say that Kim in particular has had a profound impact on our worldwide definitions of a beautiful woman,” says Dr Jones.
“One reason is that he sees himself as a work in progress.”
The show frequently showcases the Kardashians’ team providing professional services such as makeup, tanning, styling advice, and hair care.
“Audiences will identify with people who are more similar to them, so if this was a program made up of tall, thin, blonde women, it wouldn’t be as successful,” says Dr Jones.
But she points out, especially in recent years, that the looks of the Kardashians have become much less identifiable. He cites the reason for this as the fact that viewers can’t afford to constantly have plastic surgery or apply to personal care specialists like the Kardashians.
“There is a limit and I think the fans are aware of that.”
But some people go to extreme lengths to achieve such looks.
Surgeons in the UK have expressed “concern” about the demand for larger hips.
Hip implants, stretching and fat injections have become very popular lately, but they also carry risks.
“In 15-20 years, when fashion changes and the aging process begins, we will see repercussions,” says plastic surgeon Marc Pacifico.
Meanwhile, the Kardashians themselves say they’re “judged and criticized” for how they look.
Earlier this year, Khloe tried to remove an unfiltered photo of herself from social media because she felt “almost unbearable” pressure to meet the “impossible standards” set by her fans.
“In fact, the pressure, constant ridicule, and judgment all my life to be perfect and meet others’ standards for how I should look was unbearable,” she wrote.
The Kardashians are inseparable from social media – Kylie and Kim are among the 10 most followed accounts on Instagram, while Kendall, Khloe and Kourtney are in the top 20.
According to Dr Jones, the Kardashians are the “pioneers” who shape the way we project our identities and images on social media.
“It’s impossible to separate their image and their success from the success of Instagram,” he says.
It didn’t take long for the Kardashian family to start earning money from their followers.
“They created influencers,” says comedian Marcy Jarreau. She’s one of two people on the Kar Dishin It podcast who reviews the reality show episode by episode and also discusses the latest Kardashian headlines.
Jessica Jean Jardine, the other comedian and host on the podcast, says:
“They’ve taken it easy to use social media for marketing and distribution for their business, which is actually designed to give you a glimpse into the lives of your friends.”
These businesses, which include Kylie’s cosmetics, Kim’s beauty and body contouring products, and Khloe’s jeans brand, have brought the family millions of dollars.
“Kim’s famous friends all do the same thing,” Jarreau says, “but they [the Kardashians] did the best.”
3. They showed a different type of family
One of the inevitable consequences of opening your family life to a reality show crew is that viewers also witness conflicts in your relationships.
For many viewers, these discussions constitute the most interesting moments.
“I was always impressed that they were a family that could fight and still love each other,” Jarreau says.
“While people want to talk about their morals or values, I honestly think they’re some of the healthiest people you can watch on TV.”
The show also saw Caitlyn Jenner, who is married to Kris, come out and transform as transgender, Kim and Kanye giving birth to their child through a surrogate, and tackle big changes and complex issues like these.
“The idea of your life, relationships, and job being fixed, I don’t think people connect with anymore, and they [the Kardashians] exemplify that over and over,” Jardine says.
He says the show “creates a mirror” for people who live in non-traditional family structures and see their differences as wealth.
Caitlyn, a former Olympic athlete, has previously said that her “identity” is her greatest achievement.
“I worked for the Olympic Games for 12 years. In 2015, I worked 65 years for gender reassignment,” she told the BBC.
“It was less accepted. Everyone loved the Olympics. A lot of people hate your guts when they see your transformation. Check out the quotes on Instagram. It’s been a lot harder until now.”
Caitlyn has also received numerous awards for her advocacy work.
But he has also faced criticism from trans rights activists for his political views and support for former US President Donald Trump.
4. ‘Racial ambiguity’ and cultural mismatch
If the Kardashians reflect the diversity in American life, it also shows that they serve a reflection of the negative aspects of society.
They were accused of cultural misfit and “pretending to be black”. “They took ownership of what made them up,” Jarreau says.
“From their bodies, to the way they dress, to the way they do their hair, they have taken a lot from other cultures, especially blacks.”
“Kardashians are viewed as both white and non-white people,” says Adria Y. Goldman, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Mary Washington.
“Their popularity and behavior have reaped the rewards of acting in both areas, reaping the benefits of being white, and avoiding criticism of non-whites.”
Even though they were criticized for their lack of sensitivity, they still took advantage of this behavior.
“The continued popularity and success of the Kardashians despite these criticisms suggests that on some level their cultural mismatch is acknowledged, not understood, or a combination of the two,” says Professor Goldman.
5. There have been many emotional relationships and breakups
The show featured a number of interracial relationships, including Kim and Kanye West, Khloe and Tristan Thompson, and Kylie and Travis Scott, who all have children from each other.
Dr Jones says that on the surface, the Kardashians “embodied the mixed-race family fantasy.”
“Despite all the problems they’re going through, we get little clue that race or ethnicity has anything to do with them.”
But while these relationships are portrayed as uncomplicated on the show, in a broader context things aren’t quite so simple.
As Professor Goldman points out, the relationship between Kim and Kanye exposes her “racial ambiguity” and sparks controversy over her appropriation of black culture.
“His relationship with Kanye and his children contributes to his position at the intersection of white and black,” she says.
“Some might argue that Kim’s children with Kanye opened the door to black culture for her.
“However, some may see Kim’s familial bond as heightening her need for cultural sensitivity, understanding, and appreciation.”
6. They are accused of showing off their wealth
Kim has previously mentioned Kanye’s influence on her business ventures.
“He taught me never to compromise and to truly own up,” he told Forbes.
“I was really the opposite before. I was eager to put my name on everything.”
Where she previously ventured into products like toilet paper, she is now focusing on marketing things that fit her personal brand.
Some of the penultimate episodes and the entire last season were filmed during the coronavirus outbreak, and the resulting wealth has made these episodes more difficult for fans to watch.
“We’re having a lot of trouble with this,” Jardine says.
“Private island trips, showing off their wealth and having a team and getting their nails and makeup done when there is so much pain [during the pandemic].”
7. They planned their life after the reality show
While the ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ show is coming to an end, the family has signed a new deal with the subscription-based Hulu platform in the US, and their program will begin later this year.
Details of the schedule have yet to be revealed, but we’ll likely learn more about Kim and Kanye’s divorce.
Meanwhile, the family will continue to pursue opportunities outside of reality show business.
“Kim is the person most likely to have an incredibly successful career,” says Dr Jones.
“He says that once he finishes his law studies, he will open his own law firm focused on penal and prison reform.
“I have no doubt that this will happen because Kim Kardashian is doing what she said she would do.”
On an episode of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’, Kim revealed that she failed her freshman year exam.
“I’m not giving up and I’m getting ready to take the exam again soon,” she later said on Instagram.
Dr Jones believes that Kim may enter politics in the future.
“The moment I heard that Kanye West was running for president, I thought it had to be Who,” he says.
“A reality show star [Donald Trump] has already become president of the United States, and as of now, Kim Kardashian, who has half a law degree, is better qualified than him.”
While Kanye West didn’t do well in the presidential race, Kim is about to see another family member pursue a career in politics.
Caitlyn is a member of the Republican Party and will run for governor of California this year.
With ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ coming to an end, it seems unlikely that a show or group of people to rival its success will be on the scene anytime soon.
“I feel like they’ve really carved out a niche for themselves that no one else can fill,” Jarreau says.
“I don’t think there will be another family that can captivate audiences enough to deserve to be on TV for ten years.”