Kardashians and ‘Konversations’


Caitlin on May 30, 2024

How to navigate the impact of reality (series)

Are you a Kris, Kim, Kourtney or Khloe? Or perhaps you see yourself more as a Kendal or Kylie? Or you might be rolling your eyes at the very idea of comparing yourself to them. I think the most important thing to read here is that the Kardashians still have a very firm footing in pop culture – in fact if you include their original series, it’s been 25 years! So, they aren’t going anywhere, and we all need to accept this thinking no matter how we feel about the unofficial US royal family.

Disney+ has just released the first episode of the fifth season of The Kardashians series, which they have self-rated as M with a warning for drug references, coarse language and sexual themes. This means that the series can be watched by anyone but is more suitable for a mature audience 16 years and over, especially when considering the adult content that is covered. It’s important to make sure younger viewers are encouraged to wait a bit or to watch with a trusted adult where they can have open conversations about what the series is about and how it makes us feel.

For all the eye-rollers, the series is unrealistic and scripted. The lifestyle that the family leads is extremely unattainable and there are massive safety concerns that they face daily which is only lightly touched upon. The portrayed body image standards, for young women especially, are problematic. The popularity of the series has enabled each family member to leverage off its success and develop their own products, brands and empires.

However, people are still drawn to the Kardashian empire so what makes the series so appealing? We can recognise that family celebrates fashion – from supermodel Kendal, to Kim wowing at the Met Gala and Skims ventures, and Khloe’s Good American line of inclusive fashion – the family are fashion icons. The family talks about challenges, their feelings and mental health. Kendal especially opens up about her struggles with anxiety, Kourtney references receiving therapy consistently and all of the sisters are very open about their turbulent relationships and co-parenting situations. A lot of people find this type of content simply entertaining and it can offer a fun escape from daily life.

With all this in mind it is important to foster critical thinking and encourage viewers to reflect on the information that is being shared. Promotional and glamorised content requires us to be mindful and there are questions we can ask ourselves or our whānau before pressing play.

Konversations and kuestions

Reality vs. Entertainment:

  • Do you think everything we see on the show is real, or are some parts made more dramatic for entertainment?
  • How can we tell the difference between what's real and what's scripted?

Influence and Role Models:

  • What do you think makes the Kardashians so influential and popular?
  • Do you see them as role models? Why or why not?

Body Image and Beauty Standards:

  • How do the Kardashians shape our ideas about beauty and body image?
  • How can we appreciate our own unique qualities rather than comparing ourselves to celebrities?

Family and Relationships:

  • What do you think about how the Kardashians handle family issues and relationships on the show?
  • Can we learn anything about communication and support from their family dynamics?

Social Media and Fame:

  • How do the Kardashians use social media to maintain their fame?
  • What are some positives and negatives of living so publicly on social media?

These questions can help spark meaningful conversations or push us to reflect personally about what we are watching and how content might impact our perceptions and values.

Remember, if you are open to hearing different views it means conversations will flow, developing opportunities to unpack and critically think about content. Sometimes it’s hard to not be dismissive about content that we aren’t passionate about – but being dismissive isn’t going to provide any opportunities for reflection. And if we aren’t personally thinking about what we are watching, things like reality series will have more an impact on us than just providing an opportunity to escape from our own reality.

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