Wang thinks the broader appeal is in the family bond. “There’s a charm to them. There is a normalcy — if you can call being followed by paparazzi normal — but there is a normalcy to them. You see them with many things uncamouflaged. They don’t all run around partying. They attend parties but a lot of that is about family life and how they deal. There’s something very comforting and reassuring to us. They really are a family.”
Kim is often billed as the star, but the sisterly dynamic is invaluable to the show and its offshoots.
“It’s so crucial to what we’re doing,” said Jenner. “Any time you can put out a clothing line, like the Sears line or the QVC line with three personalities, three distinct styles — Khloé is tall and fabulous and Kourtney is 5 feet tall. They let you know that it’s OK to be curvy and find the right look for different body types.”
The individual character traits are as evident in person as on the show. All three are polite and professional, but Kourtney and Khloé are warmer, the former mellow but funny, the latter, most likely to tell it like it is. Kim is quiet. She let her sisters do the talking while she fixated on her BlackBerry to the point where it seemed as if Khloé had been elected the official spokeswoman for this interview. “I know when they’re tired,” said Khloé. “So I’ll pick it up and they’ll do the same for me. Kourtney wasn’t feeling well a second ago, Kim’s just.…”
“I’m just really low-energy right now,” said Kim.
“We just know when to pick it up for each other,” continued Khloé. “Why? Would you like me to shut up now?”
Off camera and on, the family prides itself on its lack of censorship. “If you’re annoyed and you’re talking s--t on the phone or something, [the cameras] are going to come in there,” said Khloé. “We do have editing control, but once you’re already past that emotion and by the time we get to watch the episode, we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal, let’s just show it.’ I mean [Kourtney] had her baby on camera. I’ve even let her bikini wax me on camera. If these were my friends, I think I would filter a lot more. But we’re a family.”
Other plotlines have included butt and breast X-rays, discussions of constipation and incontinence.
With immense exposure, and large windfalls, it was widely reported that the family’s net payday for 2010 was $65 million. And with that comes some amount of backlash. Kim, Khloé and Kourtney each have a Q Score in familiarity above 60, meaning 60 percent of those surveyed are familiar with them. But, in typical reality star form, they have high negative scores and low positive scores, averaging around 12 percent positive and 55 percent negative. (Snooki, of “Jersey Shore,” has a 10 positive and 70 negative.) But why shouldn’t they parlay their long, shiny dark hair and curves and kooky family charisma into a big business? Why is that less credible than Martha Stewart, who is a good homemaker?
“Don’t let us forget to tell you about Kardashian Khaos,” said Kourtney, who explains it as the epicenter of Kardashian kitsch — shot glasses, playing cards and beach towels with Kim in a bikini on them, set to open in Las Vegas’ Mirage hotel in November.
Chaos is spelled with a K.
I pointed out that not every C should be changed to a K so capriciously. The girls were unaware of an e-mail sent by a third party public relations agency extending the invitation to celebrate with the Krazy Kardashian Klan. “Like the KKK?” asked Khloé. “No. None of us are the KKK. That’s not good.”