What I Learned From Ten Years Of Hate-Watching The Kardashians

What I Learned From Ten Years Of Hate-Watching The Kardashians

Reflecting on a decade of lies, deception and genuine love.

Published 3 weeks ago

On October 14, 2007, our lives were forever changed — either for the better or for the worse; jury's still out on that. It was on that fateful day that E! aired the first episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, a series that catapulted one blended family into stardom— as cameras chased the zany Kardashians and Jenners all around Calabasas (and everywhere else) in this “real-life” interpretation of The Truman Show. If you’re anything like me, then you hate-watched the show through several E! marathons just to “see what the big deal was,” before making the reality series a necessary part of your Sunday evening.

There’s an internal dialogue that every KUWTK convert goes through. You feel strangely ashamed that Kim’s fame seemingly came from a sex tape with Ray J, though when anyone else vocalizes that you suddenly find yourself jumping to her defense, sounding off about feminism and slut-shaming.

You watch her make ridiculous social media faux pas and cringe, but then you see a picture of her on Instagram looking like a Greek goddess and you still double tap your screen. You’ve ranked your Kardashian-Jenners in order of who annoys you the most (it’s always Kylie) and you’ve designated yourself as one of the family members based upon personality type. You admire Khloé’s zest, though you really miss “Lammy” (and her old face). You hate Scott, yet you ride for him. You smile when Kanye smiles. You throw a shoe at the TV every time Rob says “my fitness.” You say, “Oh, Larsa’s in town?” when she shows up on screen. The phrase “Bible!” desperately wants to burst out of your mouth.

It’s sad. Pathetic, really. Season after season, it’s a shame spiral that you claw your way out of, only to get sucked in once again. While the series is breaking records for being the longest running of its kind, it could be the definition of “jumping the shark,” — particularly the newest spinoff, Life of Kylie, where the star (Kylie) is so vapid and emotionless that producers had to literally use Snapchat filters on the screen. Yet, here we are, watching the remake of their now-iconic season one opening credits — the one with Kim running late to the family photo YET AGAIN — and you lovingly say out loud, “Oh Kim, get it together!” — with a twinge of nostalgia.

While the rational mind knows that the show is little more than smoke and mirrors and Snapchat filters, our hearts want to believe. So as Keeping Up With The Kardashians celebrates it’s 10th anniversary, here are the lies we struggle to let go.

  1. A sex tape really is a meal ticket.

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    It’s funny. We forget Kim Kardashian’s first real taste of fame arrived when she was the brunette counterpart to Paris Hilton. Paris released her sex tape “1 Night In Paris” in 2004, but Kim wouldn’t have hers leaked until 2007 (filmed in 2002), conveniently a few months before KUWTK would air. That means something screamed “star power” before we saw Ray J’s gigantic…ego…all on the screen beside Kim’s. Though even most would argue that Kim Kardashian’s sex tape scandal as the cause of all of this, that next level fame and fortune would come from hard work. Sure, at times it was a little annoying—like watching Kim devour a Carl’s Jr. cheeseburger repeatedly for their famed commercials. But we managed to catch how each family member took their percentage of fame and made it into something. More on that later.

     

  2. Kris Jenner didn’t leak Kim’s sex tape.

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    Yes, she did.

  3. DASH was a good idea.

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    By the seventh episode of the first season, we see how DASH is going to be a real thing in this series, but making us sit through that store for seasons on end was as boring for us as it likely was for the sales girls (excuse me, “DASH Dolls”). The DASH Dolls, the pretend fights, the spin-off series — we didn’t need any of it. It ultimately was there as evidence for the girls to be able to say, “See guys? We do work!”

  4. The Kardashian-Jenners do nothing all day.

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    As previously stated, not true at all. Kris’s kitchen is often depicted as this idyllic backdrop where the kids all congregate and eat salad from gigantic bowls, saying vaguely racist things like “Yo yo yo mah sista!” in between bites of lettuce and swigs of iced tea, as they all go over their schedules and talk s**t about each other. It leads you to believe they really have nothing better to do. Dare we rattle off what they’ve accomplished? Kim became KIM, Kourtney had a litter, Khloe wrote a book and dated the NBA (plus French Montana), Kendall became a legit supermodel, Kylie became a social media swan. For goodness sake, even Rob made a few socks! It was no Lip Kit or Kimoji, but Arthur George actually happened. I know because I own a pair that says, “Stay Trill.” Don’t @ me.

     

  5. Bruce and Caitlyn are the same person.

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    Nope. Bruce was the pushover dad who just wanted to play with his model airplanes and have some respect. Caitlyn is this glamazon that had you screaming “Yasssss” when you saw her Vanity Fair cover, only to say “Oh hell nooooo” once you saw she was shouting #MAGA. Maybe Caitlyn found her oomph once she lived her truth, but best believe she is not the same person who would walk into the room and yell “Hey kids!” and everyone would roll their eyes. Now we roll our eyes because she’s a walking contradiction.

  6. Jonathan Cheban doesn’t have a job.

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    False. His job is to show up whenever Kim is going through a thing and say, “Are you serious?” It’s amazing how he flies to California for that, too. It’s a job though; don’t deny him that. And Larsa Pippen has a job, too. Her job is to do what Jonathan does when Jonathan isn’t around.

  7. No one got any “work” done.

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    Sorry, I had to pause and catch my breath from laughing so hard. Okay, yeah. Carry on. If the new nostalgia trailer showed us anything, it’s that Kim’s curves, Khloe’s nose and Kylie’s...everything are not what they were 10 years ago — and we’re not talking about regular old aging.

  8. The girls are musically inclined.

    A month before Keeping Up With The Kardashians first aired, Kanye West won the battle of the albums when Graduation spanked 50 Cent’s Curtis in the September 11, 2007 album sales showdown. While it would be several seasons before Kanye would bring real hip hop to the show (surprisingly, French Montana barely got to flex that part of his resume), the Kardashian-Jenner girls routinely tried it. They really did. Remember when Kim had that single “Jam (Turn It Up)”:

    Or, when the girls recorded that “She Loves Her Friends” for Kris’s 60th birthday:

    How about Kylie’s “K Dollaz” social media singing moments?

    None of these were enjoyable. They should have never happened. The jury is still out on whether North and Saint will inherit their father’s talent, but for now, I’m calling a wrap on any further musical endeavor by the KarJenners.

  9. There’s nothing too sensitive to put on camera.

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    Looking back at a show that started with a sex tape and put cameras everywhere from Kourtney’s delivery room to Lamar Odom’s deathbed, you would assume that there’s nothing so sacred about the KarJenners’ lives that can’t be put on TV. Well, you were wrong. Apparently the line is drawn right around Kendall Jenner. Admittedly the most reluctant member of the made-for-TV family (besides Kanye), she has yet to discuss her biggest plotline — that humiliating Pepsi commercial scandal — on camera. Really, Kendall? Birth, death, divorce, addiction, infidelity and even gender reassignment are fair game, but your fragile ego is not?

  10. Kanye and Scott are miserable.

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    Lies. All lies. The only time we see joy on Kanye’s face these days is during the show, when he’s talking about his art or looking at Kim.

    And as for Scott? He may be a maniac at times, just looking for the next bender, but no matter how many models he has on his arm as he jets around Saint Tropez or Miami Beach, he’s always looking for a way back to Kourtney. Maybe it’s the money. But at this point, after ten seasons of exposure, Scott could probably make a nice purse from club appearances and Instagram vitamin sales lone. But we believe, perhaps foolishly, that deep down in his debaucherous heart, he really just loves his family and would trade it all to lie poolside with his girl and his kids, while Kourt snarks at him.

    Something about the Kardashians is admittedly cultish, like once you enter the vortex, you never really want to leave. Maybe it’s wanting in on the circus, or maybe the Kardashians are just low key lovable.

  11. Blac Chyna was a villain.

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    This one is perhaps one of the most dangerous lies the show (and it’s off-camera spin machine) has put forth, filled with dog whistles about race and class. Can we stop pretending that all of the KarJenner girls, at one point or another, haven’t “stolen” somebody’s man? Or dated for ratings and cash? Can we all stop pretending like early Rob wasn’t a bona fide f**kboy and all of his relationship woes now are just his karma? Can we? For goodness sake, he ran Adrienne Bailon through the mud, victimized himself by slut-shaming Rita Ora, and then acted like he didn’t know EXACTLY what he was getting into with Angela Kardashian. For a family that monetizes every relationship, friendship and even blood test result, it’s beyond rich to shame a woman for turning her own pain into profit.

  12. We aren’t secretly envious of their inappropriate, line-crossing behavior toward each other.

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    For the last thirteen seasons we’ve watched this family rip each other apart for saying too much at times and not enough other times. Remember when Brody was all in his feelings in Greece over Kris or Bruce needed his “other house”? How about the countless times Kourtney and Khloe ganged up on Kim for her work ethic (or attachment to Reggie Bush) or Kim and Kourtney wanted to stage a Khloe intervention? They threw an entire party to ask Khloe about a health scare. By the end of each episode, you’re led to believe that they are “working on it,” — establishing boundaries, that is — yet they never are. And we wouldn’t want it any other way. There’s something perversely sweet about this family’s bond. They still have contests over who has the best smelling vagina, they still make sexual references about each other, they still meddle in each other’s relationships when they shouldn’t. But they never fail to have one another’s backs. And that may be the only “real” thing about the whole damn show.

Written by BET Staff

(Photo: Brian Bowen Smith/E! Entertainment)

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