‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Ends Not With a Bang But a Whimper
The series finale of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which aired Thursday night, wasn't a moment too early. In fact, there's a reason it was overdue.
Technically the second part of a two-part finale, the episode picks up where the last week left off. The Kardashian-Jenner clan, excluding Rob, plus Scott and Corey, have gathered in a huge Lake Tahoe rental home for one final vacation together on the show. Kris Jenner repeatedly calls it their last family outing, period, as if the group has no reason to vacation together when the cameras stop rolling.
As in the previous episode, which included a scavenger hunt and a secret Santa Claus exchange of gifts related to iconic moments from the show, they obviously play orchestrated games that allow smooth transitions in flashbacks to previous episodes. Khloe makes her own home videos of her siblings for a time capsule that she plans to bury in Kim's garden. They watch fireworks and talk to each other about how much they'll miss the show, all in expensive looking loungewear. It's your typical boring series final tariff.
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Not even fans of the Kardashians will find anything interesting or revealing in this finale. The show is now so tangential to its fame, which exists mostly on social media and its entrepreneurial ventures, that it has nothing new to say. Not for years. Once upon a time, the Kardashians were unique in the way they shared every moment of their lives with viewers - just look at Kourtney giving birth to her son Mason with an entire camera crew in the delivery room.
Now, the famous family can't leave home without being carded, let alone keeping news of divorces, relationships, and pregnancies under lock and key. With hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, they're clogging social feeds with snapshots of their kids and partners. This reflects the show's dramatic storylines, such as whether Kim and Kanye will split up (they will) and whether Kourtney and Scott will get back together (they won't get together because she is with Travis Barker and he is with a 19 year old ). , irrelevant. It's a natural ending to a show they no longer need.
The most striking takeaway from the Keeping Up with the Kardashians finale is how effective the title family's rabid, completely transparent pursuit of fame really was. One tired criticism of the Kardashians, often snobbishly voiced by people who have never seen the show, is that they are famous for being famous. Obviously this is no longer true and maybe never was. You're famous for running million dollar makeup empires, teaming up with rappers and athletes, sharing heavily filtered photos on Instagram, and of course, appearing on a hit television show for over a decade. If that means the Kardashians are just famous for being famous, then so can countless other popular celebrities. To be honest, the Kardashians deserve a lot of credit for creating the brand of social media celebrity that dominates pop culture for better or for worse today.
What sets the Kardashians apart from TikTok stars overnight is that their rise to fame has been deliberate, arduous, and often desperate. We know this because E! Producers. Even as a longtime viewer of the show, however, I had forgotten that they weren't always the petrified, inconceivably rich, Yeezy ad-awakening crew they are now, spending entire episodes eating salads and face-timing each other from mansions that resemble modern art museums. The goal of Thursday night's finale seems to be, under the guise of a sentimental trip back in time, to remind viewers of the royal family's humble beginnings of reality TV and to celebrate how far they have come.
I say that with a large dose of sarcasm, of course. The Kardashian-Jenner brood has always been wealthy, always at the forefront of the Los Angeles celebrity scene (lest we forget, Kim once had a job as Paris Hilton's closet organizer). But when they first appeared on our TVs 14 years ago, the family wasn't what would be called famous. The flashbacks on this final episode show how different the show was when its stars didn't take themselves too seriously before Kim developed legal ambitions and Kylie pocketed over a million dollars for a sponsored Instagram post.
For example, in reviewing a season three episode, Kim, a notoriously unskilled and reluctant dancer, appears with the Pussycat Dolls in Vegas. In another, Khloe comes up with the idea of making a "love tape" for her then-husband Lamar Odom and poses naked in a candy-filled tub while a friend films her with a flip video camera - an obvious example of product placement.
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Flashbacks like this one recall a time when, under Momager Kris' guidance, the Kardashians seemingly said “yes” to every photo shoot, gig, and branded deal they were offered, from Carl’s Jr. to Sketchers. There was a disastrous prepaid debit card, the Kardashian Kard, dubbed "the worst credit card ever." Kim even hosted the opening of Charmin-sponsored public toilets in Times Square in 2010. And of course, the “leaked” sex tape that helped kick off. The endearingly trashy, unabashedly thirsting for fame women in the old film footage of the finale resemble today's scenes not only because of the cosmetic surgery they have undergone. What may bother some people so much about the Kardashians is that their tricks worked so well for fame.
That's not to say that there aren't a lot of people who for legitimate reasons don't like the Kardashians. There's no shortage of Kardashian controversy to warrant criticism, and I don't want to mention them. Between the constant cultural appropriation, the shilling of dangerous weight loss products and the shameless disregard of COVID-19 health warnings (see: Kims 40. And yet, like phoenixes with acrylic nails, they emerge relatively unscathed from any scandal.
"This show made us who we are," Kim says halfway through the episode. Whatever the cliché, her reflection shines with truth. The show, with the help of social media, took a little-known family and turned them into an inescapable cultural phenomenon. The Keeping Up with the Kardashians series finale definitely doesn't mark the end of the Kardashians. Instead, Thursday night's episode marks the end of a 14-year television experiment to craft modern celebrities that has proven - for better or for worse - to be an undeniable success.
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