Before and Beyond the Kardashians…Reality TV: A Retrospective


Remember when reality shows started to take over television? We all joked that eventually we’d just be watching people sitting around watching TV. Well, apparently that’s what it’s come to. The People’s Couch on Bravo is just that. Yes, it’s based on a British show, so we can’t blame this entirely on cutie-pie shark Andy Cohen…but still. Personally, I would develop my own show called Meta, which is of course just me watching The People’s Couch…while I have no doubt it would be a hit, you could not pay me enough to actually watch an episode of TPC. Anyway, seeing an ad for TPC inspired to take a look at some of the best and worst reality TV and see how we got ourselves to this point.

The Simple Life

Say all you want about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie— actually don’t I will defend them to the death– but at least they did something on their show. The Simple Life was no Kardashians sitting at home talking about how annoying Kim is being about her new Bentley (that is a real episode, people)– this was Paris and Nicole sitting on a farm talking about how cool a Bentley tractor would be. Really The Simple Life was deep: it took us into the homes of rural America. And they did  something. They worked. They made differences in people’s lives. They lived on a farm in Arkansas, road tripped ’round the country, worked for an airline, a mortuary, a summer camp, all while staying with regular families– including Ke$ha’s!* (That’s hot) We watched Nicole go from chubby with ratty extensions and black streaks to anorexic** and bobbed. Ugh, remember that season when they were fighting and had to do the show separately? Sure the competition and staged confrontation were fun, but like it was just so stressful for us. Were you Team Paris or Team Nicole? Don’t worry I’ll do celebrity feuds soon. 

fat kardash

Keeping Up With the Kardashians

Ugh. The first family of reality TV. I know the title implied that this wouldn’t be about them, but it wouldn’t be a Komplete look at reality TV without mentioning the omnipresent Kardashians. First of all, I highly suggest you go back and watch earlier seasons. RIP Kim and Reggie Bush (true soul mates #NoDisrespectToKanye #NoDisrespectToBenAffleck). It’s amazing to see how different everyone looked back then. Rob was thin and cheating on a Cheetah Girl (how dare he?!!). Plus, Bruce Jenner was still a man. They also manufactured stories a lot more dramatic, whereas now we’re so invested in this family we’re content to watch them do literally nothing but deal with their relationships. I think in Judaism we don’t believe in the devil, but I’m pretty sure they’ve changed those teachings since we’ve been introduced to Kris Jenner. Are we sure she isn’t Rosemary’s Baby? Let’s not even deal with Bruce– I can’t. Ditto for Kendall and Kylie, like shut up literally the most spoiled brats, at least make a fucking sex tape like a hardworking Kardashian.*** Obviously Lord Disick is a God and is the only reason I watch. Kourtney is the luckiest “doll” on Earth. Although, it’s hilarious Scott and Khloé are bffs, weren’t they enemies earlier on? Speaking of KoKo, yes the circumstances of her split with Lamar are horrible, but everyone is saying how no one her age should have to get divorced– um hello KIM IS ON HER THIRD HUBBY! Speaking of which, if she couldn’t end up with Reg (ugh they were just so perfect and cute), I think she should have stayed with the Hump. LOL Ray J.


Talent Competitions

Let’s be real, for every Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, there are 10 Taylor Hickses and Fantasias. American Idol was great at the beginning, but maybe it’s time to bow out. The Voice got me back into singing shows– the revolutionary format was enticing…until you realized that after the auditions it was pretty much the same. The judges dynamic was enough to bring views in (Blaaaaaaaake), something they’ve tried to mimic with new judges on AI and The X Factor, but I’m not biting. America’s Got Talent, however, is a family event in the Rez House. It’s a true talent show, but can get aggravating to see who’s auditioning– I’m sorry but you’re competing for a show in Vegas– no one is going to Vegas to see a contemporary dance troop of 10 year olds or a preteen playing piano. ALSO THE PLATE FLIPPER FROM THE CLIPPERS GAMES!! Highlights are always comics and magicians- also those dogs that won and my personal favorite, the guy whose talent was getting hit in the balls! Other faves are Last Comic Standing and the ever-wonderful Project Runway. Project Runway was just so original and the characters are just the best. ANTM is also great if you need a good laugh…Oh Tyra. Also let’s be real Shark Tank is the shit–a) it makes Mark Cuban likable and b) Robert Herjavec is amazing (yum). Finally, Chopped is my favorite show ever.

harrysSame guy right?

Dating Competition Shows

Fox recently cancelled I Wanna Marry Harry midseason, and I’m very upset about it. First of all, how could you leave us hanging like this, Fox? Obviously it only had the potential for one season, couldn’t you just stick it out? And, America, why weren’t y’all watching? How could you not wany to see a bunch of girls dumb enough to believe not only that FOURTH IN LINE TO THE THRONE OF ENGLAND decided to televise a bunch of Yanks competing for his love?? Firstly, like why were they not suspicious that he was into all these brunettes… EVERYONE KNOWS HARRY ONLY GOES FOR BLONDES. I mean it’s one this to believe the premise, but these girls spent time with the impostor and still believed he was Prince Harry! It was Joe Millionaire (which made it 2 seasons) but with competitors dumber than Paris, Nicole, and Kim combined! I’ve never seen The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, but I can’t imagine them being any more entertaining than this. I at least have some respect for shows like Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, etc. because at least they’re not pretending to be anything they’re not. All these women on all these shows are batshit crazy.

Real Housewives

Has anyone ever noticed that the majority of the Housewives aren’t even wives? Nothing wrong with being single, but maybe Andy Cohen should have named it (Sort of) Real (Sort of) Rich Women? I started watching these when Beverly Hills came out (although also extremely misleading because I think literally 1 of them actually lives in BH, but I get the brand-name recognition). Like sorry but it hasn’t been worth it since the best character, Paul Nassif, left. TG he has a new show on E!, Botched. Yeah, at the beginning we were all obsessed with Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards–we were all like OMG Mauricio is such a DILF, but I’m so over it. I do love RHOA though. I miss Kim though. Also, how exactly did NeNe become a star again? She is literally the worst actor and the most annoying person alive. Like obsessed with everyone else though. The greatest jewel of the franchise was the short-lived RHODC. In all fairness I only saw the reunion and maybe a couple of episodes, but White House Crasher Mikaela Salahi should have made it a hit. Bravo finally nixed the RH title with their new shows Ladies of London– which is essentially a Real Housewives and is actually pretty great.

giphyIt was a Lexus. Her life was ruined.

My Super Sweet 16

Hilary Duff sang the theme song so every episode started off perfectly. (Wasn’t Come Clean the Laguna Beach theme? HilDuff really carved out a niche for herself on MTV) Who didn’t start planning their own 16th after each episode? The kids were brats but, like, entertaining brats. A girl’s party took over an entire school, but like I feel like that didn’t happen at my high school. I would have loved to see My Super Sweet Bat Mitzvah, and I hate to admit it, but I could have easily been on that. For sure, my tantrums were bigger than some on the show, and my party was just as extravagant as some on the show. #TBT to my Bat Mitzvah drama– I had originally listed a bunch of stuff but I think this deserves its own post down the road… here’s a taste though: at one point, my dad offered me any car I could ever want (a la Sweet 16) to get me to stop crying! (I also forgot to bring a bra which got inappropriate) Most importantly though, America’s Sweetheart and my future BFF Jennifer Lawrence was in a commercial!


Laguna Beach/The Hills

I’ve actually never seen any of these so not much I can say. Having said that, I do know who Lauren Conrad, Brody Jenner, Kristen Cavallari, Speidi, etc. are. What is kind of amazing about this is that these shows completely created celebrities out of nothing (but maybe the popularity of The O.C.). We already knew Paris and Kim (quite intimately) when The Simple Life and KUWTK first aired, but LC was just a high schooler who is now a “fashion designer” and “published writer.”


Storage Wars

People complain that A&E will make shows about literally anything, but Storage Wars is a goldmine. My cousin introduced me to it when we were in Hawaii and we spent literally an entire day inside watching a marathon– it may have been the best day of the trip. Barry is one of the most entertaining characters on TV, and I’m pretty sure his sole reason for doing this is to make friends, and boy has he. There’s also a married couple on the show who fight so much that their poorly matched relationship could be its own show. Except no one would watch because they’re so annoying– then again we’re on Season 9 of KUWTK.


Newlyweds/Chaotic, etc.

The general takeaway from the Newlyweds was that Jessica Simpson was dumber than dumb (or was at least pretending to be) and that Chicken of The Sea was in fact fish, not chicken. The real takeaway, however, should have been DO NOT DO A REALITY SHOW IF YOU WANT TO STAY TOGETHER. (I’d worry about you, Giuliana and Bill, if I cared enough about you) Reality shows lead to divorce. Don’t believe me? Just ask Britney and K-Fed, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro, Shanna Moakler and Travis Barker, the Gosselins, Hulk Hogan, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, Tori and Dean (maybe), hell even Khloe and Lamar had their own show. The exception that proves the rule is clearly Ice Loves Coco, which chronicles real, honest to god, true love.


The Real World

I’ve never seen it but I thought I had to include it because I feel like it really is the foundation of reality TV. I’m putting it last instead of first because I want to talk about the fact that they tried to make reality movies a thing. The Real Cancun came out in theaters and everyone was afraid that film was dead. It didn’t catch on though. Which I think is really interesting and one day I’ll have to sit down and watch it and maybe gain some insight why. I think we’re good on that front until we have The People’s Couch: The Movie, which is just people watching the last Divergent film and the new Judd Apatow movie.



#RIP and #TBT to some of my faves: Beauty and the Geek, Dirty Soap, BridalPlasty, The Girls Next Door (the original with Holly Bridget and Kendra), Scream Queens, Pretty Wild, and of course Princesses: Long Island.


*Yes, I know she’s Kesha now, but she’ll always have the dollar sign to me

**Allegedly! Nicole Richie has said she does not have an eating disorder

***Just a side note, I love how Kim is always being referred to (by herself as well) as a workaholic

Ed note: I got really freaked out scrolling past the Super Sweet 16 gif thinking it was me–she looks eerily like me when I was about 15


Baby Got Back(pack)

tumblr_m3ewl2gy9p1qhw4wvo1_5001Chastity may love her Sketchers but only because she doesn’t have a Prada backpack

Look, I’m not going to judge anyone based on what they carry their books in. Except in some cases, in which I totally am. Roller backpacks come to mind. Unless you’re a pharmaceutical rep, just no. You look like you’re on your way to the airport, most likely for a trip to the national dork convention. Let’s look at some of our other options– I give you a whirlwind tour of totes and purses through the years and of course a look at the backpack itself.

Canvas Totes


When I was in middle school, it was about time to graduate from a backpack to a tote. Canvas totes were all the rage as bookbags but if you really wanted to fit in/look cool, you needed one from Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC. They came in  a few basic colors- white, black, blue, and pink. This may have just been thing at my school, started by someone after a trip back east, but nonetheless it was a trend I had no intention of missing out on.. I’m beginning to fear that I have been coming off in this blog as a slave to fads, but as I said this was when I was 12, and honestly back then I pretty much was. Anyway, the bag was actually a practical size for carrying books, and even as a gym or overnight bag. Not much of a purse though outside of academic and light luggage usages. Sure, over the years there have been other canvas bags (I often use this Thursday Friday Birkin tote), but my pink Dylan’s will always be the one that started it all.



Another trend that took over the halls all of a sudden. These were actually great, maybe because LeSportsac is a luggage company. They were weatherproof and the straps were meant not to break under the weight of textbooks (and maybe a laptop if you were fancy). They came in a variety of colors and patterns— I of course rejected every pattern my mom suggested as we browsed the brand’s corner in Bloomies and went with a really pretty solid deep purple. Pencil pouch to match, duh. They may have been built to last but they weren’t immune to the wear and tear of everyday use. By the end of it’s tenure, my trusty tote was frayed and thinned.


Longchamp Le Pliage Large Handbag Navy


I fell like these are a more mature  version of LeSportsacs. Identifiable by the leather straps and flap that folds over the zipper, they were more expensive but had a sleeker look to them than Lesportsacs. These are still all over the place, whether being used as bookbags, luggage, or even quite often, purses.



I’m Marissa fucking Cooper. Well, basically. A few years ago I got this great vintage navy Chanel tote and of course, began to carry my notebooks in it. Nothing to do with the label, I just really liked it. But don’t think for one second I didn’t realize that I was emulating what I saw as one of the coolest but also most ridiculous things in the holy grail of television that was The O.C.

Goyard St. Louis/Louis Vuitton Neverfull

EAS_SAS GoyardI have no idea who these randos are ps

You see these around a lot. I tried it for a bit but the lack of zipper proved to be too problematic. Also it always felt a bit flimsy to me. If you live somewhwhere where you don’t have the obstacle of rain or snow, go for it. But personally, I’m going to reserve my Goyard for social use and  transporting changes of clothes/shoes to soul cycle. Bonus: Major beach bag potential

Hemes Birkin/Kelly


10-1 odds it’s fake. 100-1 odds you’re not fooling anybody. If it’s real…..STFU GTFO.

Jelly Kelly


Yeah, I had one. (I stole it from my mom—it actually was not like a gross one—well as not gross as a Jelly Kelly can be). Yeah, I carried books in it for like 2 days. It was an experiment—sue me.



Finally we get to the classic backpack. This of course leads to the ever-present 1 strap or 2 dilemma, but let’s save that for another time. Everyone has had a Jansport at some point or another. Who doesn’t have the memory of the overwhelming cluster of them in Sports Chalet. The key was to find something cuter/more unique than the basic black but not go near some of the ugly, aggressive patterns. It wasn’t easy. I scored a beige corduroy and it was awesome. Later on I got this studded one which is still pretty sick. Anyway, the way this article came up is that I’ve been looking to buy a new one. Pretty sure I’ve settled on this one:


If you take anything at all from this blog post, please know that this is a conscious, ironic fashion choice. If you see me around, know that I do not think I’m being trendy with velvet fur, please know that this just reminds me of the Spice Girls and a backpack I used to have in which I kept the Aqua single Barbie Girl.

Finally an “Ew Mention:”

Vera Bradley



Honestly I never saw anyone use one of these but apparently they were a thing on the east coast? One word: No.