“Listen, everyone has their own truth of how they think something happened,” a platinum blonde Kim Kardashian begins the first trailer for Hulu’s third season of The Kardashians, “so let’s talk about it.”
For a family that has made a vast livelihood capturing their lives, and giving the world their own version of the truth, the past months have been quiet, to say the least—aside from decidedly bad press, that is. Kylie Jenner found herself on the wrong side of a social media bullying scandal between Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber, losing her nearly a million Instagram followers. Rumours flew that Anna Wintour wouldn’t be including any of the family on the 2023 Met Gala guest list.
Meanwhile, the public began to see right through Kim’s obvious efforts to insert herself in major headlines and viral trends. She purchased Princess Diana’s diamond cross necklace at an opportune moment as Prince Harry’s memoir became a bestseller, invited Mariah Carey to her home to make a TikTok, and then did it again with burgeoning rapper and gen Z darling Ice Spice. Not to mention, she’s been accused of jinxing Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Arsenal while on a European “soccer tour” with her son Saint.
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In the midst of it all, articles debating the Kardashians’ cultural demise flooded the internet. Although it would be naive to expect their influence to die from one day to the next, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the family has been laying low. So what will momager Kris Jenner come up with to bring her daughters back into the spotlight?
We’re living in a moment where reality TV is giving majorly produced scripted shows a run for their money. The infamous Scandoval on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules involving a cast member’s cheating scandal has captivated a worldwide audience. In fact, most of the recently aired Bravo reality franchises have been well-received and making headlines for one reason or another. Shouldn’t this fare well for the Kardashian-Jenners, as reality TV has been their bread and butter since Keeping Up With the Kardashians debuted on E! In 2007? Well, it certainly hasn’t.
Season 1 of the revamped Hulu series premiered to relatively pleased audiences. A new documentary-style approach seemed to promise more of an inside look, with the family in full control. That authority, however, was a major issue in the show’s second season. Though it began with the promising storyline of Khloe Kardashian’s second child being born amid another Tristan Thompson infidelity, The Kardashians left out huge headlines, failing to even mention the Astroworld tragedy and rarely addressing Kim’s high-profile divorce from Kanye ‘Ye’ West.
Instead, the primary storyline seemed to be Kim acquiring Marilyn Monroe’s dress for the 2022 Met Gala, which was already old news by the time it aired, and we barely got a glimpse into her now-defunct relationship with Pete Davidson. This was, by reality TV law, unforgivable.
In comparison, the aforementioned Bravo shows delve into the truths cast members would likely rather keep hidden. Can you have a successful reality show without a few lives being ruined? By refusing to be vulnerable and showing only their selective truth, the Kardashian-Jenners left audiences uninterested and feeling shut out, even lacking the humour that defined the original series.
As season 3 is set to premiere in May 2023, with Scott Disick teasing that he’s “never seen so much drama” in his life, do we believe we’ll be let in to see it? Or is their current quietness a ruse to blindside us with a top-tier season?
In a culture where anyone can experience temporary fame through social media and the influencer industry the infamous clan practically invented, it all comes down to how long you hold onto it. This is far from the first slump the family has found themselves in and they’re armed with a multitude of ways to get out of it.
While the glamour of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s fairytale love story has faded, a new relationship for Khloe or Kim could be a ticket to create some buzz. It’s never foolproof however, as Kendall Jenner’s recent romance with Bad Bunny hasn’t garnered much compassion, with many questioning its legitimacy or bringing up the notorious ‘Kardashian curse’.
Babies have been a tried-and-tested way for the Kardashians to generate some media interest, withholding names and photos for months to build drama. In a sense, this is the first time we’ve been able to watch famous people grow up before our eyes. The children have slowly become a major part of the brand, particularly nine-year-old North, rumoured to have an incoming skincare line, and whose TikTok is the family’s primary ticket to success on the app.
New campaigns, new products, new surgeries, new Photoshop fails… the quick headlines seem endless. But do the Kardashians have the technological edge to maintain the dominance they’ve held for over a decade? Or will they weather the storm until the younger generation’s succession?
The only thing we can certainly say for now is that nothing is certain, and certainly, nothing is permanent. This creates endless opportunities for the family to revive storylines, trends, and ultimately themselves.
Kim’s post-divorce image shifted majorly, not just in parting ways with her husband and stylist, but also physically. She became thinner than we’ve ever seen and many suspected she’d had her Brazilian Butt Lift removed, marking for some, the end of the BBL era that she’d essentially created.
But MJ Corey, writer and researcher behind the highly popular Kardashian Kolloquium, knew better. Sure enough, on 29 March, new unedited pictures of Kim taken for what appeared to be an upcoming Skims campaign showed that the BBL had returned. As Corey puts it, “the BBLs went away so that the BBLs could come back.”
The Kardashians will continue to change the rules creating the content that supplies the fantasy, the aspiration, and sometimes the genuine entertainment. The question is, will we continue to care enough to create the demand?