Calabasas, California has a distinct lack of well-stocked pet shops. It’s particularly arduous to source an all-black Fancy Bear hamster flecked with white markings. I know this, because a significant portion of an episode from Season 16 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians followed Kim as she swished her fake ponytail in and out of pet shops, frantically trying to replace her daughter North’s recently-deceased Fancy Bear hamster.
I wish I didn’t know this information. I also wish I didn’t know that Kim’s psoriasis is, like, really bad at the moment, a lesson learned in another KUWTK story line of late. She even sought the help of medical medium (what?!) Anthony William. In the same tedious episode, Kourtney, Kendall and Khloe argued about something, possibly whether or not Kendall allowed their group to buy potatoes during a recent ski trip in Aspen. I find it difficult to focus on the drama, because everyone looks bored as hell. I’m right there with ‘em.
I have spent a shameful number of hours observing Kardashians and their extended Jenner/Disick/West/Webster/Thompson brood since the show launched in October 2007. I’ve watched most episodes, and a number of its 10 adjacent spin-offs. I’ve observed as the sisters crawled from relative obscurity to the upper echelons of the fame ladder, swapping supporting characters like best friends and boyfriends in and out as the seasons change.
Celebrities were once unaccessible demi-gods capable of curating a flawless and fine-tuned public image. KUWTK changed the game forever, making the family both unimaginably famous and deeply relatable at once: we watch them pose for the cover of GQ in one scene and visit the gynaecologist the next. Making lucrative public appearances and punching one another for being ‘rude’. Popping spots, worrying about cellulite, throwing million dollar parties and picking out dresses for the Met gala. You get the gist.
However, the increasingly dull recent KUWTK episodes have led me to question whether E! should pull the plug on the show for good. I’m not the only one unconvinced by KUWTK’s relevance: type ‘Is Keeping Up With the Kardashians…’ into Google and two of the top suggested lines are ‘Cancelled’ and ‘Still on’. The number of KUWTK viewers has dramatically declined too. In the golden days of Kardashian Kontent, millions tuned in to watch the family get to grips with pregnancy and motherhood, marriage and divorce, sickness, health and gender reassignment. A record-breaking 10.5 million watched Kim tie the knot with New Jersey Nets player Kris Humphreys. By contrast, most episodes this season struggled to pull in a million per episode.
Unless you’re a straight man over the age of 50 or somehow got stranded on a desert island for the first part of 2019, you’re probably familiar with the Khloe Kardashian/Jordyn Woods saga. If you’re not caught up, here’s the CliffsNotes version: in February, news broke that Tristan Thompson, Khloe’s boyfriend of three years and owner of both dazzlingly cute dimples and a questionable moral compass, was seen canoodling with Jordyn Woods, Kylie Jenner’s BFF-come-housemate and rising star on the plus-size fashion scene, at a party.
Intending to set the record straight, Jordyn reached out to longtime family friend Jada Pinkett-Smith and sat down for a tell-all interview on her version of events on Facebook TV talk show Red Table Talk. During the interview, Jordyn wore a Very Serious Black Turtle Neck Dress and wept as she admitted to sharing a kiss with the Cavaleirs player. Khloe responded by having a minor Twitter meltdown, going on a girls’ trip to Palm Springs and cutting ties with Tristan. Meanwhile, Jordyn moved out of Kylie’s house and enjoyed somewhat of a career boost.
This brings me to the first reason KUWTK need not air anymore – we already know how the story goes. Though the kiss shook the showbiz world in February, but by the time KUWTK showed us the drama in June, is anyone still losing sleep over the Khloe-Jordyn drama? Khloe’s 27.2 million Twitter followers have heard her side of the story in 280-character portions, while 32.6 million of us have already watched Jordyn’s Red Table Talk interview. By contrast, only 1.32 million actually bothered watching the Khloe-Jordyn drama on TV. Today’s 24-hour news cycle and the Kardashians’ commitment to constant updates on social media mean we are already know the outcome of every storyline by the time it’s aired.
On to my next point, the reason we are forced to sit through contrived plots like the potatoes in Aspen drama is because the family is no longer sweet on airing its dirty laundry. Psoriasis woes and Fancy Bear hamsters took centre stage this season, but we all know that’s not what made KUWTK an institution in reality TV. The show gained its cult following for taking us behind closed doors and into the heart of the drama. Hell, we even got to see Kourtney pulling baby Mason out of her own vagina.
In 2007, the Kardashians were fame hungry. Kris’s momager advice was to say yes to every opportunity, whether that meant Kim performing a deeply embarrassing dance routine with the Pussycat dolls or Khloe taking the cameras along on her way to serve an 180-minute prison sentence for drunk driving. Kim, Khloe and Kourt crawled so Kylie and Kendall could run. Kylie, arguably the most intriguing of the family, seems to have zero interest in taking the cameras behind the doors of her Calabasas mansion. At 21, she is already a billionaire thanks to Kylie Cosmetics and no reason to rely on the KUWTK cheque, choosing to keep her pregnancy with one-year-old daughter Stormi completely private and revealing more of her life through a carefully curated YouTube channel than she does on the show. Her birth announcement video, titled To Our Daughter, has 84 million views, while a recent Day in the Life vlog scored 24 million clicks.
Unlike 12 years ago, the sisters have their fingers lodged in a couple of million dollar businesses, our protagonists are less sweet on letting us see them at their worst. Kim has KKW Beauty among other business ventures and is training to practice law, Khloe has Good American, Kylie is killing it with Kylie Cosmetics, Kendall is the world’s highest paid model and Kourtney recently launched her own Goop-esque lifestyle platform, Poosh. Kourt let her recent romance with model Younes Bendjima play out away from the cameras and Kendall has barely appeared in any recent scenes, let alone allowed her romance with basketball star Ben Simmonds be known.
Big events like Kylie’s 21st birthday were disappointingly AWOL from our screens, despite making numerous headlines for the antics of its A-list invitees (we’re looking at YOU, Tammy Hembrow).
I keep up with the Kardashians between Daily Mail headlines, double tapping on the ‘Gram, poring over the odd Youtube video or flicking through Snapchat stories. There’s far more action to be had there than within the tired old KUWTK story lines. The series is renewed through to 2020, though the future of the show is still TBD. For all our sakes, I hope Ryan Seacrest does the noble thing and puts those E! dollars to good use on another fame-hungry family. I hear Lindsay Lohan is free – you can thank me later, Seacrest.