Kim Kardashian has no apparent talent. It is likely she sings off key, dances like Elaine Benes, and paints on par with a fifth grader. Her body is wonderfully curvy, her makeup has taken some getting used to, and her psoriasis will continue to haunt her in humid environments. The rest of her family, including sisters Kourtney and Khloe, are just as talent-less, albeit tossing out some epic one-liners here and there. True you can call the entire Kardashian clan business savvy, especially mother hen Kris Jenner who has, along with the help of Ryan Seacrest, turned their Calabasas-based family into reality show royals. But the Kardashians are doing it like no one else, that it to say, by being just like me and you and everyone we know. Minus all the cash, of course. And as for Kim, the brightest supernova, every step she takes is photographed, recorded and archived, making her one of the most Googled and talked about celebrities of our time. And all she has to do is exist.
I. A Brief History of Relevant Reality
It would be difficult to speak to the rise of Kim and the Kardashians without looking back at the history of such televised programming. The genre of reality began arguably in New York City with the premier of The Real World in 1992, a whopping 21 years ago. This show spawned an entire generation of spinoffs, the most relevant coming in 2001 with MTV’s The Osbournes, chronicling the everyday domestic lives of Ozzy Osbourne and his kooky family. The show took off. This clan was quirky, funny, and already had the star power. Much to the chagrin of Black Sabbath fans, Ozzy was shown to the world as a “normal” person, a father, a History Channel lover. America fell for the Osbournes and recognized qualities in their own neighbors, their own families and themselves. Oh, the editing process! After 52 episodes, the show called it quits. The jokes got stale, Ozzy’s slurring became too much, and to be honest, no one on the show was that easy on the eyes.
Pioneers in the genre, MTV, recognized this and with the huge success of The O.C., decided to create Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, a loosely-scripted reality show documenting the melodramatic lives of high school teens living the lux and breezy seaside life. Another big score for the network. From there, it was all semi-golden: The Hills, The City, Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Kristin Cavallari. All beautiful and relatively un-famous people just going about their lives either in Los Angeles or New York.