I owe the Kardashian family an apology.
It turns out that they are not the most annoying family on television. They are not the extreme example of what’s wrong with our celebrity-obsessed culture. They are not even close to being the most clueless, most self-absorbed, most obnoxious people ever featured on a reality show.
I just discovered “Pretty Wild.”
This pathetic excuse for entertainment debuted March 14 on the E! cable channel. The show is executive produced by talk-show host Chelsea Handler, who I always assumed was too classy and intelligent to be involved in a business venture like this.
“Pretty Wild” follows the antics of a 45-year-old former lingerie model named Andrea Arlington and her daughters Alexis Neiers, 18, and Gabby Neiers, 16. There is a third sister — kind of — who goes by the name Tess Taylor, a 20-year-old woman who is considered a member of the family, but apparently is not related by birth. It’s very confusing, and watching the show doesn’t make it any less confusing. Let’s just call her the oldest sister.
This show is a classic example of what many believe is the secret to the success of reality television — that watching these human train wrecks try to make it through a day makes us feel better about ourselves.
Watching Arlington and her brood get through a day even makes Kate Gosselin feel good about her life, not to mention her parenting skills.
Oh, before we go any further in this discussion, allow me to point out an important aspect of “Pretty Wild.” The main focus of the show is the middle child, Alexis Neiers, who is not just another star-struck teenager.
She is alleged to be a member of the so-called Burglar Bunch (or Bling Ring, take your choice), which is charged with burglarizing the homes of celebrities, including those belonging to Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Lindsay Lohan and Rachel Bilson.
Much of the drama centers on the young woman’s pending court case, and how she’s dealing with the trauma of facing jail time (her crime is considered a felony with punishment of up to six years in prison).
Here’s one way she dealt with it — she took off for Cabo with her sister.
In a recent episode, her attorney (who obviously is relishing the attention of having cameras in his law office) demanded her immediate return from vacation to handle another crisis — the discovery of compromising photos on the Internet. Her attorney also thought it was a good idea for his client to be interviewed by Vanity Fair magazine to show people (the potential jury pool) what a good and misunderstood person she is.
As a celebrity interviewer, I must admit to being embarrassed as I watched the interview with Vanity Fair. The magazine reporter, feigning empathy, hugged Alexis at one point to calm the teen’s anxiety. I tried that once with Angelina Jolie, but she knew it was a trick.
Being 18 and clueless, Alexis fell for the reporter’s tactic, and returned home buoyed by the prospect of a favorable story in a national magazine. Unlike her attorney, she was more excited about being in Vanity Fair than in swaying public opinion.
You know where this is headed — the Vanity Fair reporter did a hatchet job on the unsuspecting bimbette, which led to a scene that I suspect was unintentionally humorous.
Alexis, feeling betrayed by someone who obviously didn’t share her inflated opinion of herself, was crying so hard that she had trouble leaving a message on the reporter’s answering machine. How did she get the reporter’s telephone number? OK, I digress.
What made the scene even funnier was that Alexis had to keep hanging up before finishing her message because her lunatic mother kept screaming angry epithets into the phone. Finally, Alexis was able to express her tearful disappointment that the media she so coveted had let her down.
Everyone in this family is a celebrity wannabe, from mother down to the youngest daughter, who may be the scariest one of all. She is freakishly mature for her age, and humbles her sisters and mother in sophistication and wisdom. If I had met a young woman like this when I was 16, I would have been too frightened to turn 17.
But the mother is the real piece of work here. She is not a teenager, yet she seems to have the parenting skills of a teenager. She clearly is trying to live a life of celebrity through her children.
So, once again, I’d like to offer my sincere apologies to Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, not to mention family matriarch Kris Jenner. None of you is as bad as I thought.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article