Keeping Up With the Kardashians is set to end this season after 14 years on the air. The show gave viewers a backstage pass into the life of a wealthy family known only for their famous fathers and a sex tape. Yet, KUWTK spent 20 seasons becoming a hit. Ironically, depending on who you talk to, it can be difficult to find someone who will actually admit to watching it.
But someone did. Because the family has made billions and changed pop culture like no one else.
When the show started in 2007, the youngest kids – Kylie and Kendall – weren’t even in their teens and the husband was still named Bruce. Fast forward and the family has had three weddings (all for Kim), ten babies, nine spinoff shows, and multiple new businesses. And Bruce is now Caitlyn.
Originally, they were the butt of jokes, taunted as being “famous for being famous.” But the ladies K knew how to self-promote.
Kim understood that social media was going to be her ticket to infamy. So she posted everything she did (with as much cleavage as possible) and monetized everything she posted. Fashion lines and a personal “brand” followed. Soon her sisters were following suit and an empire was born.
Clothing, intimate-wear, accessories, and make-up all got the Kardashian touch. Even the publicity-shy brother, Rob, co-owns a line of socks. (Yeah, didn’t know socks required a “line” either.)
And it all became the next big thing. But one has to wonder why. It’s not like they had anything in common with the buying public.
Yet, the family has “broken the internet” with a butt, a hairstyle, and a baby. Unfortunately, they were outdone by, of all things … an egg – which doesn’t say much for the social media crowd – for the most-liked Instagram post ever.
The family has also allowed cameras to follow their dramas: Jenner’s gender transition, Kim’s wedding ceremonies, the drug treatment, infidelities, pregnancies, and divorces. Of course, most of it came in staged scenes that were watched months after the tabloids had already covered the stories. But viewers liked to think they were finally getting the real story of what happened.
Despite their influence on social media and the Twitter-verse, nobody ever saw KUWTK as life-changing content. Yet their impact is undeniable, even to the highest levels. In 2018 while working on a law degree, Kim wrangled a meeting with the president to ask for clemency for a 63-year-old woman convicted of non-violent drug charges. (She got it.)
Of course, without a reality star in the Oval Office, it’s unlikely this reality star would have gotten in. But the Kardashians have always known how to strike when the iron is hot.
So whether it’s a late-night punchline or just general conversation, the Kardashians have become part of our lexicon – even for those who never watched. But once they’re gone, what then?
Of course, these are the Kardashians. And they’ll never truly leave the media eye.