Now I enjoy a bit of car-crash TV just as much as the next person. One of my guilty TV pleasures is Fashion Police on E! and I am not ashamed to admit it! But the Kardashian reality TV shows I cannot get on-board with, and I have tried. The swearing, the whining, it all just comes across as crass and childish to me. But clearly not to the millions of global viewers that have made this family a reality-TV hit. Furthermore, I am increasingly hearing other British Asian women talk about them with interest. And this got me wondering: what is their appeal? Why are a growing number of us tuning in to watch them?
We all know that celebrity culture has a huge draw in this day and age. Lady Gaga continues to have the biggest Twitter following with over 33 million followers, outranking politicians, sports personalities or any bigger thinkers of today. (Incidentally, Kim Kardashian is number ten in the list of most followed on Twitter, with over 17 million followers).
At the core of the Kardashian shows is family. From “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” to “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami”, the drama focuses on the relationships between sisters, parents, husbands, children, step parents and step siblings. And isn’t family at the core of Asian life too? Could this be the allure of this clan, and perhaps why some of my Asian girlfriends watch their shows and love them?
Family is a very big deal to us Asians. Unlike some of our Western counterparts, we don’t just see our brothers and sisters on special occasions like Christmas and birthdays; they are a part of our daily lives, as are our parents and a large part of our extended families. I think its fair to say that our families shape our identities too, and certainly our choices- think of the weight of expectation many of us had to consider when choosing a marriage partner or even what subject to study at university.In that respect, family can become suffocating- when we are not free to make our own choices but have to consider what every uncle, aunty and cousin will think of us. Boundaries are very important in every relationship and no more so with family where we often try hard to please parents and meet their expectations. My husband and I have worked very hard to establish comfortable boundaries with both sets of in-laws and this hasn’t been easy at times. But it’s worth working at, and in my opinion vital to maintaining good relationships. Even through the ups and downs, my family- both immediate and extended, are one of my biggest treasures in my life. Like the Kardashians, we might not always get along, but what would life be like without each other?
For me personally, the strong sense of family that lies at the heart of Asian culture should be celebrated and treasured; these relationships are worth working hard at. If nothing else, I admire the Kardashians for keeping their family relationships central to their lives and their shows are a reminder of the role family can play. As we continue to see a lot of dysfunction and heartache in the modern family, the Kardashians are a tongue-in-cheek reminder of what a fun place family can actually be.
Or, its just good-bad TV and we like their clothes….