Keeping Up with the Kardashians has been on the air for a whopping 12 seasons and it’s showing no signs of stopping. Part of the show’s success is the sitcom structure that it has. There are usually a few problems or storylines going on in a single episode that get wrapped up by the end with a lot of silly humor in between. It’s no wonder why the show has been such a huge success. The fact that it follows a real family is the icing on the cake.
However, this show hasn’t just been focused on funny things like squirting breast milk, falling in toilets, and Scott becoming a Lord. Those absurd moments have definitely led to many headlines that make even people who don’t watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians curious about the show. But the show has also been on during the family’s toughest moments.
That includes Lamar Odom’s recovery after his overdose outside of a Nevada brothel. The show did delay filming as Khloé and Odom were separated, but still legally married, at the time. However, the show went back to filming and the overdose was covered. The show was clever on how it approached the issue by having Odom and Khloé off-camera with the other family members talking about the situation. However, the future season of the show might have to strategize even more.
This is because Kim was robbed on October 3 while she was in Paris for fashion week. She was held at gun point and tied up by her hands and feet in her luxury residence. She had her jewelry stolen and sadly, the culprits are still at large. As if that’s not enough, her husband, Kanye West was hospitalized for nine days for temporary psychosis from sleep and water deprivation. There have also been reports that he has been battling depression and paranoia for a while. During both ordeals filming was halted for a short period of time only to restart.
It already has come out that both situations will be covered in the upcoming season of the series. But perhaps we should all pause to ask, should it? It’s understandable why some may argue yes. The Kardashians signed up to have their lives be the public’s entertainment. If they don’t talk about it, then the show will be called out as fake (although every reality show is “fake” on some level).
We would argue that the show should take an even longer hiatus. For one, the family really should be given time to heal and reflect before a camera is put in front of their face. That being said, it could be a good thing for Kim to talk about what happened to her in Paris and the possible post-traumatic stress that comes with it. There are many viewers who are victims of violence and having someone in the media talk about this issue could be beneficial. But if you don’t let the survivor heal, then you’re just exploiting that pain. The same thing goes for Kanye West.
This year has been an interesting one when it comes to how we talk about black men and mental illness, something that isn’t often addressed. It sort of all started with Kid Cudi, who came forward to say he was struggling with depression and was going to rehab for it. Not long after that, Kanye had his breakdown and hospitalization. Since his release, he’s been getting outpatient care every day and the family is already back to filming.
But the quick turn around has to make you wonder if any of them really processed what happened. Even if the cameras only catch the rest of the family talking about the situation, like during Odom’s hospitalization, it feels like exploitation. Sure, Kanye is part of their family, but it is still primarily his story to tell. It would be nice for him to have the time to get healthy so he can tell his story in the medium he sees fit, whether it’s music, a documentary, or on the reality show.
There could be some benefits to watching the entire process on-camera. However, we need to remember that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a reality TV show and not a documentary. Documentaries would be expected to have experts talk intelligently about mental illness or dealing with a traumatic event. They typically try to look at issues from multiple vantage points to get a full picture of it. Their goal is to have the audience walk away with new information.
However, viewers of a reality TV show are only watching what the producers want them to see, and that means the parts that are entertaining. That could mean focusing on whatever they see fit, including the emotions that come in the aftermath of these situations. It’s about drama and the glamour of this family’s life, but they’re real people and real people’s pain and suffering shouldn’t be our entertainment.
It’s understandable that the show is a business and that they have to fulfill the network’s order of episodes. But just like how Kanye is allowed to cancel the rest of his tour thanks to insurance, there should be room given for this family to recover and grow. The reality is that these types of situations should be handled carefully, whether you’re a private citizen or a pop culture icon.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice
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