A Life Lesson from the Kardashians (Even if You Can’t Stand the Kardashians)
It is, as many cultural commentators have remarked, the end of an era. On Tuesday evening, Kim Kardashian West announced to her 188.6 million Instagram followers that after 14 years, the forthcoming 20th season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians will be its last. The time has come for goodbye.
To our amazing fans - It is with heavy hearts that we've made the difficult decision as a family to…
The clan can teach us all a lot about timing. They’ve spent much of the past two decades cannily cashing in on the evolving face of celebrity in a fickle digital age, in real time, despite a self-professed lack of talent — that is, in the traditional sense of “entertainment.” The Kardashian-Jenners don’t sing, dance, or act. Their talents lie elsewhere: in a knack for seizing opportunity at just the right moment, for arriving at the next big thing neither too early nor too late, whether that be paid-access content or social media branding. Kardashian West wasn’t an early adopter of Instagram, for instance, but recognized, once she joined, that she could leverage its already sizable user base to be “my marketing tool and my free focus group.”
But the greatest lesson they’ve provided to us all: knowing when to get out.
Rather than bail a sinking ship in a competitive marketplace, members of the family unilaterally killed their relatively short-lived collection of apps in early 2019 to invest efforts elsewhere (in Kardashian West’s case, an apprenticeship to become a lawyer). A year earlier, they shuttered the two remaining boutiques of their mini retail chain, Dash. As was noted at the time by Racked, “even having ‘Kardashian’ as your last name doesn’t protect you from the fact that brick-and-mortar retail is a dying business.” Better to tend to the other irons in the fire.
Once again, the Kardashian-Jenners are opting to quit while they’re ahead—or, at least, before they’ve truly fallen behind. Though the most recent season of KUWTK held rank among the 100 most-viewed TV shows of the 2019–2020 season, its ratings had dropped precipitously — a reflection of broader media trends as much as anything. Maybe tastes have changed; maybe cable TV’s simply over. Or, maybe, the family is over it.
Whatever the case, here’s what I predict: that they’ll catch the next colossal wave right before it hits the rest of us, even if that next big trend turns out to be “a break.” Maybe the fates have written 2021 as the year of the overdue breather. Maybe the Kardashians are already there.