The Kardashians (Kim in particular) represent much of what the United States is today: multicultural and driven to success, yet exaggerated and with a tendency toward dysfunction. Viewers of the family’s reality show, Keeping up with the Kardashians, see a dramatized, yet very real, version of their own ambitions and aspirations, as well as their own failures, whenever they watch the show or keep up with the ten members of the Kardashian clan. However, the medium of television that the Kardashians use to share their lives with their fans is a very fickle one. Simply because of the nature of the entertainment industry, the producers and others behind the fame of the Kardashians will have to replace them with a new set of celebrity idols in order to maintain the interest of viewers.
The very name Kardashian, with its exotic Armenian roots that match the appearance of the children of Kris Jenner and her first husband, the late defense attorney Robert Kardashian, adds to the appeal of the show for the average American. Today, the United States of America is a truly multicultural society that puts no pressure on those who bear unusual foreign surnames to change them. America now celebrates its ethnic diversity. The era of the melting pot, in which immigrants and their descendants were compelled to assimilate into a culturally uniform entity, ended unsuccessfully generations ago. An American named Kardashian is no less American than one named Smith, and seeing a family with roots in a small, conflict-torn country succeed makes Americans proud of their country. The American obsession with athletic success also makes its appearance in the Kardashian clan, as Kris Kardashian Jenner’s present husband is none other than Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic athlete who achieved a great deal of fame and exposure thanks to his achievements.
Of course, the appearance of the Kardashians and their glamorous life is the basis of the appeal of the show. However, the family is far from perfect, and there are elements of dysfunction in their lives. Whether staged or actual, the recent short-lived marriage between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries only garnered more attention for the Kardashian clan. After all, with the divorce rate in the United States as it is, a sizable number of Kardashian reality show fans have undoubtedly been divorced. Some of those divorced viewers could well have realized that their marriages were doomed in as little as the 72 days that the Kardashian marriage lasted. Kim and her three siblings are themselves a product of divorced parents. Although Robert Kardashian is no longer alive, he was not married to their mother, Kris Jenner, at the time of his relatively early death. In addition, the first thing people associated with the name Kardashian before the reality show was the late attorney’s most famous client, O. J. Simpson, who is the very portrait of American celebrity dysfunction.
People who follow the lives of the Kardashians therefore see how high they can reach, as well as how low they can fall without completely failing, in today’s America that is so accepting to people of all origins and so tolerant of human foibles. However, it is precisely because their show is a reality show that depicts the American dream and human failures wrought large that it will have to move aside at some point for newcomers. The reality show will at some point fail to attract new viewers. A younger generation that does not identify with the present version of reality portrayed by the Kardashians will soon become the prime audience for television programming. When that happens, count on the producers and managers who are behind the Kardashians to find a similar theme of glamor and triumph with a human touch to capture the hearts and minds of their new audience.