Two days ago, news broke that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were having their fourth baby via surrogate. When I shared a link to the announcement in Man Repeller’s slack, it garnered little response. I would have been surprised at my colleagues’ communal shrug of apathy if the internet hadn’t seemingly followed suit. The announcement was seemingly met with a whisper instead of a bang relative to markers of past Kardashian milestones (which range from major magazine covers to record-setting Instagrams). This may have been the result of post-holiday catch-up, or the fact that at this point the Kardashian clan has spawned too many cute children to acknowledge another one with much fanfare, but I can’t help wondering if it’s couched in a broader meaning. Is anyone keeping up with the Kardashians anymore? Do they remain the harbingers of pop culture’s temperature as they once were?
Based on the ratings of their actual show, the answer to that question isn’t that nebulous. The Daily Mail reported a 37 percent drop in viewers from the premiere (1.3 million) to the finale (851,000) of Keeping Up With the Kardashians‘ most recent season. The decline in their relevancy goes beyond that, though, based on what I’ve seen on social media (I was never an avid watcher of the series, but I’ve consistently followed the family members online out of curiosity). Take Kim’s recent Twitter dispatch on New Year’s Day, for example:
Watching BirdBox. I really like it. Who has seen it?
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 2, 2019
Chrissy Teigen’s reply (“kimberly like everyone in the entire world”) perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of Kim existing in a bubble thick enough to be unaware of the collective frenzy around Bird Box‘s release, not to mention the widely discussed news that a record-breaking 45 million accounts streamed it the first week after its December 13th release. Absurd, yes. Surprising? Perhaps not.
The Kardashians’ potential for out-of-touch-ness looms even larger when you consider how their particular brand of authenticity is aging. While they certainly paved the path for celebrities opening up their personal lives to the world and on the internet — a phenomenon that is now the norm rather than an exception — they’ve been outpaced at their own game by others who employ a palpably more genuine, less glossy (not to mention unscripted) iteration of it to connect with their fans. People like Tracee Ellis Ross, Chrissy Teigen, Busy Phillips, Tiffany Haddish and Jameela Jamil come to mind.
With more than 240 million Instagram followers between Kim, Khloe and Kourtney alone, the Kardashians are far from irrelevant, but I suspect they and the ideals they espouse are starting to hold less weight. What do you think? Let’s discuss.
Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images.