So farewell Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I can’t say I shall cry many tears for the end of this toxic slice of televisual inanity.
For 13 years since its debut in 2007 its mix of soft porn, vacuousness, venality and general grubbiness has been infecting our culture, seeping into our collective consciousness like a suppurating boil of banality.
A bit over the top? Maybe. But I do really feel very strongly that it has coloured the perceptions of a whole generation of young girls and women, and not in any way favourably. I mean, we had Sex And The City, which, while racy, controversial and attention-seeking was nevertheless a well-thought-out saga of female empowerment, charting the lives of intelligent, sexy women in a man’s world. Its protagonists did at least speak in whole sentences.
Sarah Vine explained why she believes Keeping Up With The Kardashians (pictured) has set back feminism, as the series comes to an end
Keeping Up With The Kardashians, by contrast, is just a bunch of dolly birds stuffed full of facial fillers grabbing as much cash as they can by wiggling their assets at the cameras and manufacturing pointless dramas for the benefit of ratings. It is, perhaps more than any other, responsible for the normalisation of a cultural aesthetic that can, at best, be described as cheap titillation, at worst soft porn.
No doubt its armies of followers will say I’m a jealous old bag who’s upset because she can’t balance a champagne glass on her backside and ‘break’ the internet. A dried up, bitter and twisted old cow who is crabby because she didn’t come up with the idea of filling her face full of collagen and then make hundreds of millions flogging lip-gloss to gullible teenage girls.
I may indeed be all of those things. But I am also the mother of a young daughter, and I think that womankind in general should set our sights slightly higher than squeezing our assets into a rubber catsuit and pouting into a camera. Also that perhaps the best route to fame and fortune is to make use of what’s actually inside our craniums instead of inside our bras.
If there is another TV show that exemplifies this lack of ambition, any group of women that has done more to set back the cause of feminism in the 21st century, I can’t think of it.
The bitter irony is that the show — and its stand-out star, Kim Kardashian — is endlessly being touted as a beacon of modern female empowerment. A female-led show whose stars command a huge social media following and even bigger pay cheques; a sassy, go-getting ‘momager’ maximising her girls’ potential. You know the shtick.
But the truth is, they’re the opposite. For what the Kardashians realised early on is that you can monetise anything as long as you’re willing to strip yourselves of your clothes, your pride and your dignity. Call me old-fashioned but it’s a funny kind of empowerment which involves selling your backside, quite literally, to the highest bidder.
It’s the way those values — or lack of values — have, thanks to the widespread lionisation of this clan, seeped into the mainstream that I particularly hate.
Sarah argues Kim (pictured) and her family partly influenced the over-sexualisation of young girls on the internet
It is partly because of Kim and her family that the over-sexualisation of young girls is so rife on the internet; it’s because of them that online pornography (Kim’s rise to fame was prompted by the leaking of a sex tape with a former boyfriend) is considered a bit of a joke by people of my daughter’s age; it’s thanks to Kim that young girls feel such overwhelming pressure to be seen as sexual objects and why, when they fail to live up to her plastic fantastic standards, they fall into self-loathing.
As an influence, the show has been catastrophic. Kim and her cohort have contributed to a culture whose legacy is a world where staring glassy-eyed into your smartphone while effecting the perfect pout/cleavage angle is the total of many 12-year-old girls’ ambitions. It’s not only tragic, it’s incredibly sad.
There is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Even though the show itself may be ending — as Kim announced on Tuesday — there is no escaping the endless imitations it has spawned, from Love Island to The Only Way Is Essex.
So no, I don’t mourn its passing. I won’t miss having this family’s endless expanses of pneumatic flesh shoved in my face — although given the state of American politics at the moment, who knows? Kim will probably end up as the First Lady, given her husband Kanye West’s presidential ambitions. Either way, I doubt we’ve seen the last of her — more’s the pity.
A saga of selfies, sex tapes and stripping
At its height Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which will end next year, attracted 10.5 million viewers, and keeping up with its stars’ lives is rather a challenge. ALISON BOSHOFF delves into the romances, the scandals and the jaw-dropping business deals …
KIM KARDASHIAN WEST, 39, £696 million
Kim Kardashian West (pictured) was the stylist friend of Paris Hilton when Keeping Up With The Kardashians debuted
Then: A gawky stylist pal of Paris Hilton who became notorious thanks to a sex tape made with previous boyfriend, rapper Ray J. She went to court to stop a porn firm releasing it and settled in 2007.
Now: An internet-breaking sex goddess phenomenon with four children and one enormous bottom — plus a husband who wants to run for president.
Her ability to cash in on her fame is legendary. There have been seven perfumes, a diet system, clothes, fake tan, haircare products, a smartphone game, a book, a range of shape wear and a beauty range.
Coty announced in June that they were paying her £154 million for a 20 per cent stake in her beauty business. She has also plugged numerous products including, controversially, ‘appetite suppressant’ lollipops. She is said to get the largest slice of the pie from E! for filming Keeping Up With The Kardashians, although £50,000 an episode is chicken feed for her.
Romance: Kim was married to Damon Thomas, a music producer. Her subsequent weddings have been the most watched episodes of the show. She filed for divorce just 72 days after her second, to basketball player Kris Humphries in 2011. ‘Sometimes things don’t work out as planned,’ said Kim.
Kim was said to have ‘broken the internet’ when a magazine photoshoot of her bare bottom went viral in 2014. Pictured: Kim and her husband Kanye West
She married American rap star Kanye West, in a £26 million ceremony in a castle in Florence in 2014. Gold toilets were shipped in for guests and West gave a toast to himself. They have four children: North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm — the last two via surrogate. This union is also said to be rocky as Kanye battles a bipolar disorder. The two apparently live largely separate lives at present and he seldom appears on screen in the show.
Looks: Several plastic surgeons claim that she has had a nose job. Her first husband says she also had breast augmentation. Others contend a ‘liquid face-lift’ has completely reshaped her face with the use of injectable fillers.
Kim has admitted to ‘trying’ Botox and said: ‘People don’t understand the pressure on me to look perfect.’ She’s also said to have had a bottom implant, but she denied it at the time.
Scandal: In 2014 she did a magazine photoshoot featuring her oiled-up bare bottom and a picture of her balancing a champagne glass on it. The pictures were said to have ‘broken the internet’ after going viral.
She has had spats with pop star Taylor Swift, been accused of cultural appropriation after having cornrow hairstyles.
Shockingly she was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in 2016. Now, she’s studying to be a lawyer, while Kanye announced he is running for president.
KYLIE JENNER, 23, £691 million
Kylie Jenner (pictured) who was aged just ten when KUWTK started, is said to now charge brands $1 million for a single sponsored Instagram post
Then: Sulky schoolgirl — she was just ten when KUWTK started. Kylie was miserable after her parents Kris and Bruce Jenner separated and her father later came out as a trans woman. She’s very close to sister Khloe, and has said: ‘Khloe is more of a mum to me than my mum is sometimes.’
Now: A superstar, set to overtake sister Kim. Kylie has 195 million Instagram followers, and a single sponsored post is said to cost brands $1 million.
She has made her fortune through her cosmetic empire. She owns a £9.5 million mansion stuffed with Warhols, so many handbags they require their own walk-in wardrobe, and pink leather dining chairs that match her lipstick.
Romance: Her past relationship with rapper Tyga received plenty of airtime, but she now has a two-year-old daughter, Stormi, with rapper Travis Scott. They split up in September 2019 but are said to be considering a reconciliation.
Looks: Her pout is mostly fillers — a fact she finally admitted after many denials. She was driven to dabble in cosmetic work as a teen after a boy said she didn’t look like she would be a ‘good kisser’.
Scandal: She kept her pregnancy hidden despite months of speculation. The first Instagram picture of her baby later received 18.6 million likes.
Forbes magazine hailed her as a billionaire last year, but rescinded the assessment this year, blaming ‘lies’ from her team for inflating estimates of her worth.
Forbes says her business made £96 million a year rather than the £277 million claimed.
KENDALL JENNER, 24, £33 million
Kendall Jenner (pictured) who was aged 11 when filming started, has become a supermodel posing for brands including Chanel and Givenchy
Then: She was a sweet 11-year-old when filming started.
Now: Kendall dropped out of school at 14 to take up a modelling career, has advertised Chanel and Givenchy, and had a big-money deal with Estee Lauder from 2014 to 2017. She’s now a supermodel with a posse of A-list friends, including Cara Delevingne.
Romance: Unlike her sisters, Kendall has kept her love life secret, though she has been linked to a number of basketball players and singer Harry Styles.
Looks: Believed to be all natural. She’s said to get a thrill from succeeding in the high fashion world where big sister Kim isn’t always taken seriously. She told the cameras: ‘Kim originally wanted to do runway [catwalk] but she was too short for it.’
Scandal: She was mocked for promoting the disastrous Fyre festival — thousands of people bought tickets to a luxury music festival that in reality was a shambles — and there was more serious outrage over her ill-conceived 2017 Pepsi advert which borrowed imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pepsi pulled the film which had been trying to ‘project a global message of unity peace and understanding’ and showed Kendall offering a policeman a can of the drink.
KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN, 41, £27 million
Kourtney Kardashian (pictured) had already featured on a reality show when KUWTK started and became known as the most sensible of the Kardashians
Then: Kourtney is the eldest sister, and when KUWTK started she’d already featured in a reality show about privileged children working on a cattle farm.
Now: A single mum of three who is making a grab for Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop market via her website Poosh. Kourtney is a fashion enthusiast and once ran boutiques in LA, New York and Miami. She also had her own Pretty Little Thing clothing line.
Romance: Kourtney’s doomed romance with party-hard businessman Scott Disick was the backbone of many shows.
They started dating in 2006 and split for good in 2015 after numerous cheating scandals, trips to rehab and falls off the wagon by Disick, who has issues with booze. They share three children, and two of the births were shown on KUWTK.
Looks: She admits to having a boob job aged 21, before the show began.
Scandal: Kourtney is known as the most sensible of the Kardashians, instead leaving any scandalous behaviour to Disick.
After they broke up, Disick dated Lionel Richie’s daughter Sofia, 22, who is 16 years his junior. They split earlier this year after three years together.
CAITLYN JENNER, 70, £77 million
Caitlyn Jenner (pictured) who started the show as Bruce Jenner, was the only I’m A Celebrity contestant not to be met by loved ones when she left the jungle
Then: Started the show as Bruce Jenner, the U.S. decathlon hero of the 1976 Montreal Olympics who married Kris Kardashian in 1991. They had two daughters, Kendall and Kylie.
Now: Caitlyn, a 6ft 2in glamour puss who skydived into last year’s I’m A Celebrity with total confidence.
Romance: Caitlyn and Kris separated in 2013, and Caitlyn came out as transgender in 2015, telling Vanity Fair that the marriage breakdown was ‘20 per cent gender and 80 per cent the way I was treated’. In Caitlyn’s 2007 memoir, The Secrets Of My Life, she claimed she had told Kris about her gender issues, which Kris denies.
Looks: To physically become Caitlyn, she had gender reassignment surgery, a nose job, breast augmentation, forehead, jaw and chin contouring and ten hours of facial feminisation surgery.
Scandal: There have been rumours of rifts with her brood, and she was the only I’m A Celebrity contestant not to be met by loved ones when she left the jungle. However, Kim later said that nobody from the show had ‘reached out’ to the family to set up appearances.
KHLOE KARDASHIAN, 36, £30 million
Khloe Kardashian (pictured) who is the brains of the brood, has released two fragrances since their reality show started
Then: The dowdy sister in Kim’s shadow, Khloe is the brains of the brood, graduating a year early with honours after being home-schooled.
Now: A ‘mumfluencer’, she presented X Factor in America in 2012 and 2013, has released two fragrances, hosted a chat show, has a show plugging her fitness programme and has endorsed several clothing lines.
Romance: She married basketball player Lamar Odom after knowing him for just one month. He went to rehab in 2013 and in 2015 had an attempted overdose in a brothel in Nevada. They divorced in 2016.
Her daughter True was born in April 2018. True’s father, Canadian basketball player Tristan Thompson, was embroiled in a cheating scandal days before the birth, with a video of him chatting up other women in nightclubs. He was forgiven but last year it emerged that he had cheated on her with Jordyn Woods, Kylie’s friend. Woods said they had only kissed. Khloe forgave him. It is rumoured she is pregnant again.
Looks: She is rumoured to have had a boob job.
Scandal: She kept pregnancy a secret for six months.
KRIS JENNER, 64, £104 million
Kris Jenner (pictured) who split with Bruce Jenner in 2013, is currently dating tour manager Corey Gamble and has admitted to having had a £30,000 facelift
Then: Matriarch Kris Jenner had four children with the late lawyer Robert Kardashian (her son Rob has a minor role in early episodes) and two with Olympic decathlete Bruce — now Caitlyn — Jenner. In 2007 Kris decided she’d had enough of trying to get Bruce’s motivational speaking business to keep her in Manolo heels, and set up a meeting with TV producer Ryan Seacrest.
Now: Her steely ambition for her girls led to the coining of the term ‘momager’. On her watch, deals have been done to plug diet pills, liqueurs, tooth-whitening, watches, shoes, nail polish, credit cards and laser hair removal. She manages all of them.
Romance: She split from Bruce Jenner in 2013 after 23 years and is dating Corey Gamble, 39, a tour manager. In April she halted filming so that she and Gamble could have sex — and was then filmed boasting about it at a family meal.
Looks: She has admitted to a £30,000 facelift to ‘freshen up’ before Kim’s second wedding.
Scandal: In the show she is often the most outrageously behaved of the lot, once filmed getting stoned on marijuana-laced gummy bears with her 81-year-old mother.