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Renee Ballard

Kardashians: A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

Soooooooo, I’ve been watching Keeping up with the Kardashians. I can’t stop myself, even though I find every episode repetitive, strung-out and slow-moving, it hooks me in every single time. In my defence, this is the first time I’ve ever lived with pay tv, surely it’s the ready access to them that’s sucking me in?!

{Photo by Getty}

Before now, I’ve only ever seen them in gossip mags at the hairdresser and when news stories break about them. Now, as I watch the current season, I’m marrying up what my opinion of them was to what I’m seeing in front of me.

I have to say, Kim Kardashian – who I always assumed was the leader of the pack – isn’t so much the leader as she is the most mysterious of them all. I actually think Kris is the leader of the pack (and why the hell isn’t she being interviewed by Forbes, Wall St Journal, etc? This woman is one hell of a business-broking powerhouse).

When I see Kim on the show, I never real feel like she says anything spontaneously, she seems very controlled in an attempt to look very caring, supportive and loving. But every so often out pops an ice-cold, one-liner that gives me a glimpse of what I think lies beneath the surface. Not saying she’s a full-on meanie, but I get a feeling she’s got a sharper tongue than she lets on.

Conversely, I get the impression Kourtney is the easiest to read because she looks the least phased by the fame and fortune. Mostly she looks bored with the whole show and she’s always seems to be the first to say the thing that everyone else is skirting around.

I think Khloe and Kendall are somewhere in between. They seem relatively straight forward, sharing candid opinions at least once per episode, I feel like the bridge the gap between trying to be real while still propelling their careers.

And then there’s Kylie. She’s a trip.

If you google Kylie Kardashian before and after, brace yourself, this girl has literally reinvented herself, from scratch. Very much like Kim has. (This gives me supreme reassurance that if I ever wanted cosmetic surgery, then far out, I am a blank canvas to be reshaped into whatever I want!).

Kylie has the same vibe as Kim, and I think the media are keen on powering this idea that the two see each other as competition. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do get a strong sense that she has that same steely-eyed determination as Kim, and with one of those steely-eyes firmly planted on the bottom fiscal line. But that side of her only peeps out occassionally, I feel like she puts up a good shield between her real self and her tv persona.

When I look at their social media followings, I can’t help but wonder if this arm’s length, purposely vague presence helps to leave a space for fans to fill in the blanks with their own ideas of who these two are? Whereas Khloe, Kris, Rob and Kourtney seem a little more real, spontaneous and upfront, it makes it harder to pretend they’re something they’re not, which leaves less room for romanticising or projection from fans.

When I checked out their social media accounts, what I saw told a story that realness doesn’t always mean popularity. If I just use Instagram as a yard stick for how this translates from screen to social media popularity, Kim and Kylie are clearly in the lead, with 99.9 million and 93.8 million followers respectively. The next closest are Kendall with 80.6 million and Khloe with 67.5m followers.

When it comes to the Kardashians, it seems the more enigmatic the persona, the more moreish they are to follow?

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