E! President's Kardashian Defense Isn't Very Flattering to Fans

I can't really say I dislike the Kardashians. Since I've never seen an entire episode of their reality show, pretty much everything I know about them is limited to media appearances and tabloid stories. So when I say I don't particularly understand their appeal, it's entirely possible I'm missing their reason for fame altogether, and if I would watch more of Keeping Up With the Kardashians than what Joel McHale hilariously skewers on The Soup, I'd instantly fall in love with this clan of meticulously groomed women and their luxurious glossy brown pelts.

Now that E! president Suzanne Kolb has finally explained the key to the Kardashian show's success, however, I don't even need to bother tuning in. According to Kolb, people watch the Kardashians because they want to be them ... or be their friends.

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(Hmmmm. So watching the Kardashians turns you into a delusional weirdo who has trouble differentiating television from reality? No thanks. I'll stick to The Walking Dead and my fervent, ever-evolving plans for defending my family against the eventual zombie uprising, thanks.)

If you're thinking that was sort of an odd thing for a network president to say about the fans of their most popular show, boy, you're not alone. I'm not entirely sure why Kolb didn't just stick to a party line like, "People love the show! We love money! Everyone's happy! Who cares?"—but she gave quite an interesting response when asked point-blank recently why viewers watch the Kardashians:

At their core, the Kardashians are an incredibly bonded, loving, large family who live an incredibly large life. And if you actually look at the history of television, there's a pretty large number of families with that blend resonating with viewers. This just happens to be the first reality show that does it.

In many ways when you look at the year ... there's obviously been a lot of major events in the Kardashian family's lives. It's just an incredibly fascinating drama that's played out. But at its core, you know that they're going to end up around that dinner table together .... I think there's something emotionally aspirational around that family dynamic and visually aspirational about the way that family lives.

Putting aside the question of whether or not the Kardashians really are the latest iteration of, say, The Waltons ("Goodnight Kourtney! Goodnight Kim! Goodnight Scott who’s sleeping on the couch! Goodnight Mama Kris who’s here because she’s managing her daughters’ sleep patterns! Goodnight Kim’s Husband #345! Goodnight ... oh, sorry, we forgot about Khloe."), note the repeated use of the term aspirational.

As in, viewers tune in because they want to experience a similar family dynamic, or live a similar lifestyle.


Kolb clarified,

From every piece of research I've seen, people aspire to be them or to befriend them.

Basically, Kolb's take is that you might watch the Real Housewives because they're trashy and outrageous, but you're watching the Kardashians because you want to be like them. Or perhaps a more generous view of her comments would be that she's saying you like them, period.

I can buy that. I'm sure there are a percentage of viewers who tune in because it's fun to mock the show, but it's clear the majority of their fans really do connect with the Kardashians in a major way. Love them or hate them, you can't deny that the Kardashians have a special something that brings people back, week after week, season after season, spin-off after spin-off.


Are you a Kardashian fan? What do you think of Kolb's comments—do you agree that you want to be like them or be their friend?



Image via E! Online

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