The Kardashians: Microcosm of Postracial Bliss?

Do you ever feel like your family life is worthy of a reality show? I am certain that the antics of my own family could garner a large viewership, but I know that the chances of video cameras following our every move are slim. How do families receive the opportunity to enter the hallowed halls of reality show fame?

For the Kardashians, the release of Kim’s sex tape with Ray J seems to have opened the door for them to create a formidable empire. The family truly arrived after the infamous sex tape became a landmark moment in pop culture. Ryan Seacrest decided it was an excellent idea to give them their own reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which has spawned several other shows, as well as businesses, endorsement deals, and high profile relationships, among other things.

The Kardashian family has become implausibly inescapable. But why are we so fascinated by them? And by “we” I mean virtually everybody. Whether we love them or love to hate them, people from all walks of life follow the family’s every move as if… well, as if it matters. Recently, I realized that they actually do matter to me for one reason alone: their family and friends serve as one of the most prominent representations on television of this melting pot we call America.

The Kardashians are of Dutch, Scottish, and Armernian descent. Their late father, Robert Kardashian, was close friends with O.J. Simpson and even represented him during his murder trial. Kim appears to only associate with men of color: Damon Thomas (her first husband), Ray J, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, and now, Kanye West (I’m sure more men belong on this list, but I don’t have all day). Khloe is married to NBA player Lamar Odom, who is black. Her best friends are black twin sisters, the actresses Malika and Khadijah Haqq. Rob’s ex  is Adrienne Bailon, a Hispanic actress and singer of 3LW and The Cheetah Girls fame.

For better or worse, I have never heard the family ever comment on race or ethnicity, aside from mention of Kourtney’s partner’s Jewish heritage (which is typically not classified as a race or ethnicity). The Kardashians’ shows normalize a multiracial world that we seldom see on television. When I ignore the fact that they would be nowhere near as famous if they were brown or black, I can actually appreciate them for surrounding themselves with a diverse array of people. While I can certainly do without the often mind-numbing nature of their one million (and counting) TV shows, I commend them for being a rare portrayal of racial harmony on our television screens.

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