- Keeping Up With the Kardashians -Why The Kardashians Can’t Keep Up Without A Reality Show
Here’s a question: do the Kardashians really need their new Hulu show? They already have millions of followers, are covered by the press daily, and are being invited to the hottest celeb events around the globe (ranging from The Met Gala to Staten Island…).
But despite Kim’s headline-making restaurant tour around the Tri-State area, I’d argue they do. In fact, I truly believe being part of an ensemble reality TV show is a necessity, not a choice for the Kardashians — especially if they want to maintain their celebrity trajectory and continue shattering the definition of influencing fashion, entrepreneurship, and beauty.
When arguing that they don’t need a show, we’re failing to acknowledge that the Kardashians lifeline most literally stems from Keeping Up With The Kardashians. It was the foundation of their empire, and the single item in their portfolio that continually fostered a genuine sense of connection and exposure with the outside world.
And don’t get me wrong, I know the Kardashians would never go extinct without a show. What I’m saying is that from repeatedly gracing the cover of Vogue to being invited to hang out with Joe Francis (which, let’s remember, was cool in the late 00’s), it can’t be ignored that TV provided them endless opportunities to elevate themselves from fame-adjacent to America’s Royal Family.
And to keep that upward trajectory and level of cultural influence, doing a deep dive into what reality TV’s done for them helps expose exactly why they chose to craft this Hulu deal.
Why Permanent Residency in Reality TV Land Is a Must
When it was announced that the Kardashians were moving to Hulu, everyone and their dad was on Twitter speculating that their next deal would involve a law-based spin-off for Kim, a Goop-esque show for Kourtney, and/or a BTS Good American docuseries for Khloe. Literally no one guessed right, because it was soon explained that this next show would be similar in format to KUWTK.
It’s been proven over and over that the family thrives when they showcase their relationship dynamic as an ensemble cast. The fact that they’re such a close-knit family feeds into the appeal; because they’re family, there’s so much more consequence to their conflict and they can cut a lot deeper.
With an ensemble cast, they capture a greater audience, and with a loosely-defined show that centers around naturally generated drama, they get this opportunity to address anything from prepping for SNL to Kourtney’s engagement. If Kim was cornered into a legal show, there’s really no explanation as to why we’d ever get juice on her relationship with Pete or Kanye.
And let’s not forget they have tried the more specific, niche shows. Whether it be Flipping With Disick, Life of Kylie, or I Am Cait, we’ve seen these off-shoots fall flat and lack dramatic intrigue. After all, we don’t adore them because they’re subjectively talented at flipping houses; we’re fascinated by them because they’re situationally funny and because they fight like animals while loving hard.
Social Media Just Doesn’t Cut It
Without Keeping Up, we'd arguably be judging the family from their social media presence and the occasional fame-adjacent appearance. But to be brutally honest, their social media fails to showcase the root of the public’s adoration with them: their collectively authentic, witty, complex, and emotional personalities.
Let’s use Khloe as an example. In a vacuum where we just see her through the lens of Instagram, she generates a lot of controversy because she constantly appears unrecognizable in her own photos and ads. Seldom does her personality shine through, and we’re left judging her based on her heavy-handed FaceTuning.
Compare that experience to the Khloe we’ve fallen in love with on screen. On KUWTK, she’s instantly transformed into a charismatic, relatable girl with hilarious one-liners and the ultimate BFF energy.
And because we analyze their social media so closely and carefully, if we were to remove the Kardashians from our diets and simply view them through SKIMs ads and Instagram, there’s a risk they’d come across as distant and overly-curated.
It’s the Honesty For Me
It’s no secret that KUWTK had all eyes on the family after an explosively juicy debut season. I mean, c’mon, in Episode 1, Kim addressed her sex tape with Ray J head on, saying she made it “because I was horny and I felt like it”. TEA.
And it didn’t stop there. That same transparency was consistently weaved throughout the show’s 20 season run, whether it be Khloe’s season one DUI or Kourtney saying she didn’t want to film with her “disgusting family.”
Coupled with this transparency about life moments is honesty about their feelings in dialogue. In fact, the Kardashians have mastered the craft of delivering culturally impactful soundbites that solidified their legacy via memes and TikTok sounds. You know the greatest hits: “You’re doing amazing, sweetie” and “Kim, there’s people that are dying.” There’s no way an antiquated GQ interview or Instagram story would result in these off-the-cuff iconic lines (or even the less savory ones like Kourtney referring to Kim as a “distraught, evil human being”).
This brash honesty and exposing every intimate event in their lives has done them a favor in developing a connection with their audience and staying relevant — and likely an opportunity they’d lose if they gave up on reality TV all together.
Kris Would Never Pass Up a Double Dip
Beyond physical opportunities like hosting NYE at TAO or attending Paris Fashion Week, the show also provided the Kardashians the opportunity to replay intimate moments that have taken place over the last 13 years.
The beauty of a reality show is that even though a moment takes place in 2021, it gets a second wave of press when the episode covering it airs in 2022. Think about it: won’t you tune in (or at least scan the headlines) when the new show breaks down Kris’ birthday post-Astroworld or Scott’s reaction to Kourtney’s engagement?
Without a reality show, this opportunity to double dip wouldn’t exist. And even my dad knows Kris Jenner is a PR guru, meaning she wouldn’t think twice before signing on the dotted line if it meant occupying more headlines… especially on their own terms.
Shifting from E! to Hulu and deciding to leverage the same ensemble cast format wasn’t a coincidence, lazy choice, or a selfless gift from the Kardashians to us. It’s actually the most strategic and profitable business move in both the short and long term, particularly for the family brand. Remember, this is a mutually beneficial relationship — yes, we need "Bible!" and Scott pranking Kris, but the Kardashians need us too and, more importantly, reality TV.
Images: Kim Kardashian/Instagram