Keeping Up With the Kardashians these days almost isn’t even a choice. Reality TV’s most famous family is an ever-present force in pop culture — and they show no signs of fading into the background anytime soon. Their ubiquity (and, yes, that includes the print and online pages of Us Weekly) is the subject of a biting new essay by Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield, humorously titled “The Kardashians: The Egos That Ate America.”
At the start of the essay, posted by Rolling Stone on Wednesday, Sept. 10, Sheffield marvels at the fact that the Kardashian-Jenner clan has been on the air for seven years, noting that most other reality TV sensations turned out to be just flashes in the proverbial pan.
“So many empires have come and gone in the Kardashian era: The Hills, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of Wherever…But the Kardashians are right here, where they’ve always been,” he writes of the E! megastars. “Which is freaking everywhere.”
Indeed, Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian — along with brother Rob Kardashian, mom Kris Jenner, half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Kris’ estranged husband Bruce Jenner — have built a multimillion dollar empire with stakes in TV, fashion, beauty, publishing, and even gaming. (Sheffield calls Kim’s video game app the “airport-lobby time-waster of the year.”) But the real secret to their success, he argues, is ego — and a lot of it.
“The Kardashians are the last ladies standing in reality TV because they’ve simply always believed they were celebrities — endlessly amused with themselves, endlessly oblivious to one another,” he writes. “Their vanity is impervious to the outside world…Their gargantuan egos, their petty jealousies, their catty feuds, the effort-vs.-eye-roll they put into reciting their lines, their commitment to frivolity at all costs — these are seductive qualities in a reality TV star, however repugnant they might be in real life.”
The essay goes on to mock some of the family’s recent dramas — for example, Kourtney’s third pregnancy, Khloe’s split from Lamar Odom, and Kim’s relationship with Kanye West. “They do not learn, grow, mature, suffer, any of that HBO Sunday-night business,” Sheffield writes. “They do, however, take pole-dancing classes. And get mad when Mom crashes the pole-dancing classes.” (That was, in fact, a real storyline on KUWTK‘s most recent season.)
“You might loathe the Kardashians, and that’s more than understandable,” he concludes. “But there are hardly any ex-fans of the Kardashians, because all they ever promised is what they keep delivering: a journey into the American ego at its most luridly monstrous, with lots of shopping.”
Tell Us: What do you think of Sheffield’s Rolling Stone essay?