Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, Kris, Bruce/Caitlyn and Rob – the Kardashians have been referred to as the Royal Family of America – such is their popularity. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last eleven years, the chances are you’ve heard of this famous troupe. The Kardashian family have become one of the world’s most famous families, having been best-known for the ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ reality series. But just how did they reach this abnormal level of fame?! In this article, we chart the rise of the Kardashian clan. This article is also this week’s Sunday Read.
To begin with – a quick family tree. Kim is of course the most famous member of the family – her siblings are Kourtney, Khloe and Rob. The quartet’s parents are Kris Jenner (a staple of the entire Kardashian/Jenner family) and Robert Kardashian. Robert is arguably best-known for his role in the OJ Simpson ‘Trial of the Century’ – where he served as part of the defence ‘Dream Team’. Robert died in 2003. Kris Jenner remarried in the 1990s after a split with Robert – marrying Olympian Bruce Jenner. Between them, they would have both Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Bruce underwent a much-publicised gender transition, becoming Caitlyn Jenner. Through various relationships, the children have some of their own children.
The story of how the Kardashian family became famous is already well-known. The family already had a degree of fame, thanks to Robert’s role in the OJ Simpson trail, and the fact Kris married Bruce Jenner – a famous Olympic athlete. After sparingly making media appearances, by 2006 Kim was a full-time stylist who worked for Lindsay Lohan – at the time one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She also attracted some media interest due to a slew of high-profile relationships. The three sisters opened up a fashion store in California. Then in 2007, things would change hugely forever.
In early 2007, the publication of a home sex video catapulted the family into fame. Kim and then-boyfriend Ray J made a video in 2003, that was released in 2007 by Vivid Entertainment – who had bought the video for $1m. By this time, the matriarch of the family – Kris – was already developing an idea to create a reality show featuring her family. Suddenly, with the newfound fame of the Kardashian clan – the timing to launch a reality show was perfect – Kardashian fever was just beginning.
Kris Jenner and Ryan Seacrest developed the idea further, with a cameraman sent over to the house to capture footage of the family enjoying a Sunday lunch. Seacrest used this footage to pitch a show to the network E! The show was eventually ordered, with ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ airing for the first time in October 2007. To begin with, the three eldest sisters were the main focus. In the early years, episodes would often revolve around a conflict within the family – that would eventually be resolved by the end of the episode. The first season achieved high ratings – leading to a series renewal.
Ever since then, the show has been continuously renewed, and has even spawned some spin-offs. It is now one of the longest-running reality shows in the world. The show has been a key way of raising the profile of the family – but even without it, the media has been engrossed in all things Kardashian for many years. This is the same with brands – who have utilised the family’s pulling power on social media. The family have been praised for their use of social media – having mastered their online presence. They have outside projects too – for example Kendall is one of the world’s most famous models, and Kylie has a makeup business.
Just what is so fascinating about the family is unknown. But the world’s media have shown a remarkable interest in the family. The range of storylines seen on their Keeping up with the Kardashians show are rarely short of drama – while the family have been in the news for several high-profile reasons, with Kim’s short marriage to Kris Humphries well-known. Kanye West and Scott Disick are among the partners of the clan. The family continue to attract mass intrigue – and are a dream for advertisers.
Of course, the family have also attracted considerable criticism – especially towards their reality show. There have been allegations that the show makes use of fabricated storylines, with some suggesting the show makes the family appear ‘desperate’ for fame. There have also been concerns over the image they portray to young fans, especially those at an impressionable age. The well-known argument of being ‘famous for being famous’ is also commonly applied to the Kardashian family.
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It appears that the Kardashian juggernaut will continue for some time yet. They attract news like no other family, and continue to create mass intrigue. Their use of social media has been pioneering, making them a dream for advertisers who want to tap in to their enormous reach. It seems that Kardashian-mania will continue for many years to come – and with another set of children seemingly on the way, we might just be in for a long, long spell of interest in the Kardashian family – a family like no other!