The Kardashians Are Back. Why Should We Care?

After the pandemic made the rift between the rich and poor more visible, the family are banking on being more relatable in their new show.
Kim Kardashian crying
Kim K crying over lost earrings / E!

Whether people like to admit it or not, the Kardashian’s influence on global culture has been significant: people hate to love them, or love to hate. It goes hand in hand with a family that many think came into the spotlight with no real talent. 

But getting famous with no talent is a talent in itself. You don’t build an empire without some sort of skill set.

Now, the show that originally made them famous (Keeping Up with the Kardashians) has been revamped into an upcoming series, simply called The Kardashians. But why have the Kardashians turned around, after a year-long sabbatical, to take another crack at the format they poured over a decade into?


It’s a question that’s difficult to answer.

Maybe they missed the cameras, maybe they missed the fame, or maybe they wanted to be able to explain themselves and every piece of drama that engrossed them. Whatever it was - they’re back. 

Facing a world that has plenty of other things going on, the challenge they have now is getting us all to care again.


In The Kardashians, we’re introduced to how relatable the family truly is. It’s quite a step from the drama their previous show made customary. This new series positions the family as a group who want to be seen as real people with real problems. The glitz and glam is less of the focus, and the show circles around emotions, feelings and truth (however real or not that may be).

It’s a smart move – especially when exploring the changing face of celebrity today. As the oft-noted mantra says: the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder.

And while only a little over 12 months has passed since Keeping Up called it a wrap, the idea of celebrity has hit a turning point - largely exacerbated by the pandemic. While danger seemed to sit at every turn for the normal citizen, celebrities sat in cushy manors surrounded by luxury and monetary security. The infamous (and tone deaf) Gal Gadot “Imagine” video rubbed the global population every wrong way. It was just the beginning.


The New York Times declared “Celebrity Culture is Burning’. The cult of celebrity was being dismantled, they said. The #guillotine2020 tag (a reference to beheading the bourgeoisie of the French Revolution) was trending, and empty grocery aisles became a source of jokes about “eating the rich”.

Celebrities, once praised for using their platforms to raise awareness for various charities and social issues, became the butt of the joke. For people stuck in the grips of a teetering world, no one wanted advice from the rich.

And the Kardashians themselves have been caught in that landslide. 

Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian offered this solid advice for anyone struggling with life or progression: “Get your fucking ass up and work.”

The response was not good. 

“The tone-deafness is so strong with this family, how do they even communicate?” read one tweet. 

“Another week, another rich celeb telling us we’re not working hard enough,” read another.

And finally, “Let Kim Kardashian scrub hotel toilets or stand behind a cash register, or waitress for a day before she spews nonsense. She does not know what real work is like in my opinion, she has lived her entire life with a silver spoon.”

While audiences once revelled in the opportunity to see into the lives of the rich and famous, the pandemic turned that on its head. The rift between the rich and poor grew ever more visible, and the celebrity – who stands as an icon of the most privileged class – turned into a vehicle for the message that wealth was disparate. 


This is what the Kardashians - or anyone trying to make reality TV work in the 2020s - have ahead of them. A world that is broken and not as eager to absorb the drama. This latest undertaking from the Kardashian family is just a first step towards a new form of celebrity relatability and curation - it is the future of reality TV, though we may not recognise it yet.

Even the dropping of “Keeping Up With” – a reference to Keeping Up with the Joneses, a fictitious family that represents the success of achieving the American Dream - is an attempt to step back from the notion of wealth, fame and unattainability. 

The show itself, though still touching on their extravagant lifestyles, focuses closely on intimate human moments. Moments which, on some level, the audience can relate to. There is a lot of mental health speak. There are moments where Kim K pulls out grey hairs. They talk a lot about spending time with family and how the pressures of being in the public eye affect them emotionally. 

“This is Day One,” Kim says in the first episode when the cameras start rolling.

“I know,” says Khloe, “I have a little anxiety about it. Like what the fuck are we doing again?”

It’s the opening sequence - and it’s trying to set the mood.

While social media brings us close to our idols, the relationship fans have with celebrities is changing. We expect more, but they expect less. 


The Kardashians, masters of knowing what their audiences want, are betting that this is a bankable trend: A move to a more intimate and truthful conversation around vulnerable moments – instead of a focus on the glitz and glam – is a smart step. 

In episode 2, Khloe reprimands her mother, Kris, for speaking to a “commoner” in a bad tone.

“CLOSE THE TRUNK,” Kris screams.

“It’s not what you say,” chides Khloe. “It’s how you say it.”

In the same episode, Kim praises Kanye West for flying in coach, seated next to a toilet, so that he can come support her in preparation for an SNL performance. 

It’s these tiny occasions, scattered throughout the show, that seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. It’s as if their sole purpose is to afford the family relatability. But that is the goal from the start.

While celebrities might be changing, it’s not quite clear whether the public cares as much about rich people doing rich things. The Kardashians do well in their new endeavour to show that anyone, at any time, can be vulnerable. But breaking that wall between sympathy and wealth will prove difficult.

Equally the most hated and most loved family of our time, framing the Kardashian’s journey as the activities of “real people” is an interesting concept. 

In the end, it’s really about whether their fans are ready to start seeing their idols as equals, and live in a world where the rich and famous, seemingly born with a silver spoon in their mouths, can spit that spoon out.

Only time, and a whole lot of sympathy, will tell.

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