Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie, Kris, Bruce/Caitlyn and Rob – the Kardashians have been referred to as the “Royal Family” of America – such is their popularity.

They are one of the most well-known families in the world and each individual member of the clan has enjoyed a successful career – whether through TV or business work.

While the family is universally-known, perhaps best for the TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, to many, the origin of their success is unknown.

The Kardashian Family Tree

The most famous member of the family is Kim Kardashian. She has three full-blood siblings; Kourtney, Khloe and Rob. The quartet’s father was the late Robert Kardashian.

Robert Kardashian is arguably best-known for his role in the OJ Simpson murder trial, where he served as part of the defence “Dream Team”. Robert unfortunately passed away in 2003.

The Kardashians are intertwined with the Jenner family. The individual that acts as the staple between the two families is the matriarch, Kris Jenner. Kris was originally married to Robert Kardashian, before they divorced.

Kris Jenner later married Olympian Bruce Jenner. The duo had two children – Kendall and Kylie. Bruce underwent a much-publicised gender transition, eventually becoming Caitlyn Jenner.

The six children have all entered various relationships, and many have children of their own. Over time, each member of the Kardashian and Jenner family has become a celebrity.

The Origins of the Kardashian’s Fame

While the family truly shot to fame in the late 2000s, the family already had a degree of fame, due in part to Robert’s part in the OJ Simpson trial.

This became more pronounced when Olympian Bruce Jenner married Kris Kardashian. This led to Kris achieving some fame.

By 2006, her daughter Kim was working as a full-time stylist for celebrity Lindsay Lohan – at the time one of the most well-known faces in the United States.

So the foundations were in place, but a spark was missing. This “spark” came in infamous circumstances – with the publication of a home sex video in 2007.

The video was shot in 2003, and featured Kim Kardashian and her then-boyfriend Ray J. The video was released by Vivid Entertainment, who had bought the video for $1million.

The video caused an explosion of interest in the family. Family matriarch Kris spotted an opportunity to capitalise in this interest, in a decision that would change the family’s lives forever.

Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s Launches

Kris Jenner enlisted TV producer Ryan Seacrest to help develop this idea further. At first, a cameraman was sent over to the house to capture footage of the family enjoying a Sunday lunch.

Seacrest made a video based on this and used it to pitch a potential show to various networks. Seacrest was eventually able to persuade the network E! to order the series – which was named Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

The show was filmed throughout late 2006 and early 2007. It was then first broadcast in October 2007. In the first few years, the main focus was on the three eldest sisters – Kim, Kourtney and Khloe.

In the first few years, the episodes would normally revolve around a conflict within the family – which would eventually be solved by the end of the episode.

The family cultivate an enormous following on social media

Consolidation of Success

The first season enjoyed high ratings, and a series renewal was ordered. The second season continued to attract many viewers, with viewing figures growing year-on-year for many years.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians was continuously renewed and year-on-year, would attract heightened numbers of viewers. The world gradually became obsessed with the Kardashians.

The show also managed to provide fresh storylines year-on-year. It wasn’t unusual to see significant changes from episode-to-episode. One moment we would be seeing the Kardashian sisters attending self-defence classes, the next they would be trying to escape the paparazi.

The media has become engrossed with all things Kardashians. Their daily lives have become newsworthy for many news outlets. Even partners of the family – such as Scott Disick and Lamar Odom, have enjoyed raised profiles as a result of appearing on the show.

So this amounted to one minute seeing Kim Kardashian kneeing a self-defence instructor in the balls, only for ten minutes later a car chase to ensue between the sisters and the paparazi. This variety thrilled fans.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians has also morphed into several spin-offs, such as Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloe and Lamar, Life of Kylie and more.

However, in 2020 it was announced that the flagship show Keeping Up With The Kardashians will end after 20 seasons. After over 250 episodes, the show is due to cease. But the interest will surely remain.

After all, as the book below shows, the family has almost become known as “America’s Royal Family”.

Dominating Social Media

While the reality TV show was the main source of Kardashian interest, as social media has become ingrained in the day-to-day lives of humanity, the family has leveraged social media to further raise their profile.

Each of the siblings have huge online followings. They are a marketing firms dream – with the family members commanding huge fees in “sponsored posts” and promotions in their stories.

But the family have not rested on their laurels. They have each diverged from the TV show in different ways – with business ventures being common.

For instance, Kim Kardashian is known for launching her Skims line of clothing. Kylie Jenner has launched her own business revolving around make-up and beauty. Kendall Jenner is a world-famous model.

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Criticism of the Kardashians

However, there has been significant criticism of the family down the years. The main criticism is that the sisters all promote seemingly “impossible” bodies, with concerns of the impact this has on young fans.

The vast majority of the family appear to have had surgery – from breast enhancements to surgery to increase the size of their bums. As mentioned, this has arguably had the impact of glorifying surgery, and ignoring the beauty of being “natural”.

There has also been allegations of fabricated storylines in their TV shows and the over-dramatisation of supposed family fall-outs and conflict.

The Future

The juggernaut that is the Kardashian and Jenner family is only likely to continue rising in the forthcoming years. With the next generation of family members coming through, it surely won’t be long before we have other members of the clan to discuss.

Their enormous following on social media continues to swell, and their empire does not look like crumbling any time soon.