Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that production of Keeping Up With the Kardashians has been halted and the show is going on indefinite hiatus. Filming has stopped, appearances have been cancelled, tours have been paused. Social media accounts have gone dark or slowed. The whole family huddled in New York after Kim was robbed at gunpoint in Paris and now, according to US Weekly, Kim is heading home to Los Angeles where she “feels safer.”
“Kim’s well-being is our core focus right now,” an E! network spokesperson said. “No decision has been made as to when production will resume.” Cue millions of people tweeting their sarcastic and passive-aggressive shock.
I understand a lot of people don’t care about the Kardashians or literally anything that happens to them. That is very, very clear. But it’s hard to deny the mirror this family and their success has held up to American society (if not the modern world). Their rise, punctuated by stumble after stumble, is worth thinking about, talking about, unpacking.
Yes, they’re filthy fucking rich. Yes, their brand rides high on the superficial. Yes, they’ve used the media to their distinct and exceptional advantage. They’ve done this through straight-up capitalism. And they have survived some serious and very human blows.
Let’s talk about that for a second.
The Kardashians first came into the spotlight when the patriarch of the family, Robert Kardashian, served as the defense attorney in the highly publicized murder trial of O.J. Simpson. Simpson was accused of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown, the best friend of Robert’s ex-wife, Kris. That’s a…dramatic entry-point into the spotlight. Eight years later Robert Kardashian died of cancer, leaving behind four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob. That was 2003, the same year Kim became Paris Hilton’s assistant.
Here are some of the tough things that have happened since:
Ray J, ex-boyfriend of Kim, violated her privacy by releasing a sex tape to the public. Kourtney’s boyfriend Scott Disick’s parents died within months of each other, sending him into a public tailspin of addiction, cheating and rehab. Khloe’s husband Lamar Odom suffered drug addiction, a rumored mental breakdown, estranged himself from her and nearly killed himself in the process. Rob became a shut-in, and struggled with life-altering mental and physical health problems. Kris and Bruce Jenner divorced, and Bruce transitioned in the public eye. Caitlyn was in a car crash that resulted in a death. And then this week, Kim was bound, gagged, tossed in a bathtub at gunpoint and robbed.
This is serious fucking stuff. Yes, they like makeup. Yes, they manufacture some silly drama and pranks for their show. Yes, they celebrate rather than hide their wealth. They are also a very real family that has suffered very real tragedy.
They have, in many ways, redefined fame and shaped it into something that plays to their strengths (tragedy, determination, glamour) and resources (reality TV, social media, a big family). Fame looks different after the Kardashians.
Of all the things they’ve gone through so publicly, will this event in Paris be the straw that broke KUWTK‘s back? Will this be the tipping point? Is that blinding spotlight no longer worth it? My inkling says no, that they’ll take time to reflect and ultimately come back stronger. Like a cockroach you can’t help but respect.
Photo by Maureen Donaldson via Getty Images.