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Culture > Entertainment

The Kardashians Are Human Too

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Article by Ava Lystad

Oct. 14th, 2007: E! Network airs the first episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” unsure of how the reality show about a seemingly dysfunctional family will be perceived by American society. No one knew much about the family except for a few floating facts; the mother, Kris, was the ex-wife of Robert Kardashian, famously known for his work on the O.J. Simpson trial, and was now married to Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner, a famous Olympian. Between the multiple marriages, Kris had 5 girls, but only one was currently in the limelight. Kim, the second oldest, was known primarily for a sex tape released in February 2007. 

The show gave an intimate portrait of the family that turned into a phenomenon, making them a household name and some of the most influential (and wealthiest) women in America. 15 years later, we see the Kardashian family in several aspects of American culture; their prominence in the business world, the publicity they receive on their personal relationships, and on our TVs with their shows on both E! Network and Hulu. 

Through all of the cultural mediums they’ve participated in, the Kardashians have created a name for themselves. But this journey they’ve been on with the large platform they’ve been given has also illuminated the fact that they are also human, and while they are wealthy and powerful, they still struggle with issues people like me face every day; family troubles, mental health, and other medical issues and relationship struggles. 

The members of this family are under a strong magnifying glass making the likelihood of scandals and “cancel culture” that much more possible. 

Graduate student and professor of Popular Culture in America at the University of Maryland, Kylee Manganiello, shared why she thinks they remain so relevant in our culture, despite the fact that they have made some major public mistakes. “I think part of the reason why they were able to rise to the level of fame and success is that they market themselves as both relatable and glamorous,” Manganiello said. “It’s like, ‘yes, we have this glamorous lifestyle but really we are just a normal family with normal sibling spats and those relationship dynamics.”

Manganiello continued to illuminate how the in-depth aspects of their lives the show presents, such as Khloe and her weight-loss journey, have toyed with this relatability factor and revealed to viewers that in some ways they really are just like every other girl. 

Another graduate student and professor of Popular Culture in America at UMD, Caroline He, spoke on their honesty in regard to their appearance and their personal lives, saying “There’s always moments built into the show where you see a lot of relatability with what women go through specifically,” He said. “[The show] is extremely well-crafted in the lines between reality and what you [the viewer] are seeing, that they are almost immune to critique in the sense of critiquing fakeness. They disrupt that in every way they can.”

These disruptions can reach several mediums; many of the women have chosen to allow the crew to be in the delivery room to capture the birth of their children, as well as showing moments where family members found out about cheating within the family, divorces, and health troubles. It allows the audience to see one of the seemingly most glamorous families in their most raw and painful state. 

Some might say that the Kardashians are icons, comparable to figures in the Royal Family, but in all honesty, the show does not highlight that thought. The irresistibility comes from the up close and personal aspect of the show. Society doesn’t expect perfection from them. They have messy and busy lives, just like everyone else and while they may participate in the glitz and glamor as other major celebrities do, they are still human, experiencing the trials and tribulations life throws at them.