Monday, 14 July 2014

In Defence of The Kardashians (or why trash TV isn’t always trash)

I’ll admit it, I love Keeping Up With The Kardashians. There. I said it. I am not an unintelligent person: I go to University; I get pretty decent grades. I also tune in every week (or every two weeks as it is now, E!) to find out exactly what’s going on in their strange world. Despite the fact it’s always a few months old because I live in the UK and all the stories are over the media anyway.

A lot of people I know hate the show. My mum cannot stand their whiney voices (admittedly, they are pretty whiney). The fella thinks it's flat out rubbish. Most of my best friends don’t understand how I can even watch it, let alone say out loud that I ENJOY WATCHING KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS.

But, I do.

I don’t think it’s a show which has great artistic merit or layers of subtlety or is in any way, shape or form intelligent, thought provoking programming. So why do I watch it?

A lot of it has to do with switching off. I do a degree which requires a lot of self-motivation, concentration and focus. When watching The Kardashians or Made in Chelsea or The Hills I can forget all that, let my brain switch off for an hour and join someone else’s life. In many ways, its like going onto YouTube and watching your favourite vlogger talk about their day.

‘But reality TV is all constructed and edited!’ I hear you cry, ‘They’re not real people in real situations!’

YouTube is just as constructed and edited as any reality TV show. The only difference is that the content creators are also the main stars in YouTube, whereas the editing team is very different from the actual people in reality TV. At worst this means you’re going to get a biased view on a situation which doesn’t reflect the views of the people in it. At best, a better edited, more dynamic programme. That isn’t to discredit the editors on YouTube, many of them are very talented, but you are only getting their input into the process, rather than a whole team of people.

I also think in a reality TV show you are more aware of the ‘fake’ in the show. On YouTube, they are ‘normal’ people, so it’s easy to take for granted that everything they say/do is fact. I know on shows like The Hills and Made In Chelsea, scenes are staged, but more often than not the are only staged to replay a scene which happened off cameras. These are still people’s lives. The Kardashians appears to be the least staged of them all, and Kris Jenner is a producer on the show – the family has control over what gets filmed, what doesn’t and what gets put on the show. Their family, their name, is a business. They know this, and they use it. They are business people. The product their selling just happens to be their lives.

And people like me want to buy it.

In its essence, reality TV (particularly when it’s showcasing the wealthy end of society) is escapism. It allows people to pretend that they are part of a different life, and as much as that life can be aspirational it can also be laughable. I love laughing at the people on Made In Chelsea, because their lives are so wildly different from my own that they seem ridiculous. The Kardashians think nothing of renting out whole theme parks for birthdays! They get private jets at the drop of a hat! And they get excited about being ‘crazy rich’ from a painting! It’s madness and its entertainment.

So, say what you like about trash TV, but I love it – and don’t you dare say a word against the Kardashian family!

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