How long can they keep this up? The Kardashian Krisis Kountdown begins
Inside Television: Could the end be nigh for this notorious reality TV show?
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Friday 18 October 2013
For many it was the rise of reality TV which signalled the end of civilisation, so now that the end is nigh for Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the reality TV institution about one incredibly wealthy Los Angeles family, does that mean we get a reprieve?
Since the cameras started rolling in 2007, the Kardashian clan have produced eight seasons of the main show, plus several spin-off series including Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Khloé & Lamar. Along the way they have amassed an estimated combined fortune of £80m (the cast of TOWIE are well jel).
In April 2012, E!, the US TV channel which produces Keeping Up with the Kardashians, signed a deal to keep the family on the air until at least 2015. Since then, several factors have converged which threaten the family’s ability to honour that commitment. Here’s a list of said factors, which make up my Kardashian Krisis Kountdown: (1) It’s long been rumoured that Kim Kardashian’s babydaddy Kanye West disapproves of her involvement and would prefer her not to continue. Can the series continue without its star? (2) In a shock announcement this week, matriarch Kris Jenner confirmed that her marriage to Bruce Jenner, the Olympic athlete and plastic surgery fan is over. (3) The ratings are down. Last week’s show had only 1.7 million viewers, compared with the 3.6 million it regularly pulled in its prime.
“Who even are these people?” you ask, irascibly. “What have they done to deserve to be famous? And why would anyone waste their time watching this nonsense?” Ah, you see, these questions prove you don’t understand the first thing about popular culture, but I’ll humour you with an explanation, all the same.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians is TV’s incredible perpetual motion machine. It requires no fuel in the form of plot, character or even meaningful dialogue, and yet it keeps on spinning, powered only by Kim Kardashian’s magnificently vacant beauty.
This is marvellous to behold in itself, but it also makes The Kardashians and other such shows ideal viewing when you don’t have the energy to follow a more complicated story. Perhaps you’re busy doing the washing up, or simultaneously editing a GIF of Kourtney Kardashian yawning in another iPad window? Or perhaps you’ve worked a 14-hour day at the office and just want to collapse in front of the television and not have to form another coherent thought for the next 60 minutes.
There is room in our TV schedules for challenging drama, cutting-edge documentary and 24-hour rolling news; and there is also room for mindless reality television. Plenty of room, in fact. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t flicked all the way up to Channel 513 lately.
Imagine if Wossy could say what he really thinks
Have you ever noticed how Jonathan Ross always lists the film he saw last week among his all-time favourites? And how that film, by complete coincidence, usually stars an actor lined up to appear on his talk show that very evening? This mysterious synchronicity struck me anew last week, as The Jonathan Ross Show returned to ITV.
There are good reasons for Wossy’s indiscriminate passion for cinema, of course, not least the need to rebook guests for upcoming shows. But what might late night talk shows be if hosts weren’t obliged to be quite so chummy?
Last week a spat between US late night host Jimmy Kimmel and self-proclaimed genius Kanye West offered us a fascinating glimpse of this alternate reality. It resulted in an eight-minute monologue from Mr West (subject: his own genius).
This Saturday night, guests on Jonathan Ross’s show include the famously touchy Gordon Ramsay. Dare he make a crack about those missing Michelin stars?
Doctor Who: The Web of Fear / The Enemy of The World
After the discovery of nine lost episodes in Nigeria, it seemed like the run up to the next Doctor Who couldn’t get any more exciting. That was before this week’s revelation that Ben Wheatley will direct the first two episodes of the new series cranked the excit-o-meter up to 11. As the the man behind some of Britain’s most brilliantly odd films in recent years, including Kill List and A Field In England, Wheatley is a very appropriate and welcome signing. He also boasts relevant experience of multi-dimensional time travel: One of his first jobs in TV was creating clips for BBC2’s 2006 comedy series Time Trumpet.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler
The Golden Globes broadcaster NBC has announced that comedians and bezzy mates Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will present the awards show for the next two years running after a boosting the ratings to a six-year high last time around. If they need any inspiration for skits, Netflix has a compilation of Amy Poehler’s best bits from Saturday Night Live which should help.
Absent From The Academy
There are lots of interesting, independently-made documentary shorts to be found on Vimeo. This one by writer and digital video journalist Nathan E Richards explores a curious fact about UK higher education. While students from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are over represented in universities (proportional to the general population) black professors are far under-represented, just 85 of 18,550. Why is that and how does it affect student culture?
Sky On Demand
The last time “the servant problem” was so hot, it was 1892 and The Lady magazine was contemplating a double-page spread. Not only are the below-stairs storylines coming up trumps in this series of Downton Abbey, but Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry has written a kind of rebuttal to the dramas about rich lady problems he helped popularise. Devious Maids on TLC tells the story of four Latina housemaids working in wealthy American homes and it’s as gloriously hammy as anything that went on in Wisteria Lane.
On Benefits and Proud
The welfare debate in this country shows no sign of slowing, especially with gleefully provocative programmes like this on the air. Channel 5‘s documentary is one of three in the “...And Proud” series and its those two words which will rankle / amuse most (depending on your way of looking at things). The good news is Demand 5 is free, so you won’t need one of those benefits-funded flat-screen cable TV packages to watch it.
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