Critics assess the end of ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ as the family moves from cable to streaming

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Thursday night was the end of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on E! and the end of a reality TV era. The show “reinvented pop culture and changed the definition of celebrity,” Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister wrote. I loved the lead of her story:

“When ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ premiered in 2007, production didn’t have the budget to provide hair and makeup. Fast forward through 20 seasons and nine spinoffs that spanned an additional 18 seasons and 440 episodes total, it’s safe to say the Kardashian-Jenners have no problem asking for glam — and whatever else they’d like — in their contracts.”

True. They’ve signed a pricey new streaming contract. The family’s transfer from cable to streaming feels emblematic of the industry’s gravitational shift. So does the underwhelming nature of Thursday’s finale. The show ended “not with a bang but a whimper,” Jordan Julian wrote for The Daily Beast. Maybe that’s because “the show is so tangential to their fame now, which exists largely on social media and in their entrepreneurial ventures, that it doesn’t have anything new to say. It hasn’t for years.”

The “reality,” so to speak, is that the TV ratings for “KUWTK” peaked a decade ago. The show effectively moved online. “Currently, each of the ‘KarJenner’ sisters have amassed well over 100 million followers on Instagram alone — providing fans continuous, up-to-the-minute updates, versus the much lengthier process of waiting week-by-week for new episodes to air on E!,” Yahoo’s Alexandra Canal wrote.

“We can give them all of the information anyone would ever want to know in real time,” Kris Jenner told “ET.” Then again, so can every other wannabe-Kardashian…

Now they’re following the money

As Mandalit Del Barco wrote for NPR, “This isn’t the last we’ll see of the Kardashian-Jenner family — they are going on to new lucrative projects. Disney says they have a multi-year deal to produce ‘new global content’ that will stream on Hulu and Disney Star platforms later this year.” More details to come.

First, though, E! has one more way to gather eyeballs. A two-part reunion special, hosted by Andy Cohen, will air on June 17 and June 20…

Three good reads

— “For reality stars to reach this level of fame is unheard of,” Glamour’s Christopher Rosa wrote…

— The Ringer’s Alyssa Bereznak wrote about the Kardashian-Jenner-industrial complex: “The family has expanded its tentacles so far that the reality TV show — their founding text — almost feels like an afterthought…”

— Here’s how Deadline’s Bruce Haring recapped the E! farewell to “entertainment’s first family:” “None of it will change the world, but it was something that we needed to see, as anyone passing a car accident knows well…”

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