Tag Archive: Keeping Up With the Kardashians

Reality Television Therapy Sessions


Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a reality television show that follows the lives of the Kardashian family. Four of the children on the show are children of the late Robert Kardashian, attorney to O.J. Simpson during his infamous murder trial. The show follows the lives of three sisters—Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe—and their everyday struggles with work and family life. Additionally, the show chronicles the relationship between Kris and Bruce Jenner. Kris is the ex-wife of Robert Kardashian and mother to all the children on the show. Finally, the show also gives snippets of how normal and abnormal the lives are of the two youngest daughters—Kylie and Kendall—who are still in high school but also are beginning modeling and acting careers.

This past Sunday the episode began with a therapy session among Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, Rob, and their mother, Kris. The therapy session involved some serious issues of sibling rivalry because the other children felt their mother favored Kim over everyone else. Additionally, Robert thought his mother only cared about helping his sisters’ careers and not his career.  Several websites, such as Eonline.com and Gossipcop.com, have addressed Rob’s crying during the episode. However, none have addressed the ability to air sessions with a licensed therapist on television and the stars’ rights to keep some of the information private even though they have signed agreements to have any recording they participate in as part of their show. This practice seems to have become more common with reality television shows involving families, such as the Kardashians, or shows about individuals struggling with addictions, such as Intervention. More than likely anyone participating in such a gathering has signed a consent form to have their session recorded and later shown on television. However, therapy is meant to be a private matter and doctor-patient confidentiality is treated with the utmost respect in the court system. Due to the sensitive and often volatile nature of therapy sessions information often comes out that the individuals do not want known to the public.  To my knowledge, no one to date has sued a television company for airing information gained in a therapy session but recorded on camera for the show. However, the date may not be far off when a reality star will decide to challenge the ability of the television company to show information recorded in therapy sessions.


On “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” episode titled “No Boys Allowed”, Kylie (the daughter of Bruce & Kris Jenner) becomes upset because Bruce will not allow her to hang out with her “boy” friends alone. Bruce tells Kylie her male friends are not allowed into her room under any circumstances. Kylie defies Bruce and takes a boy to her room to order a pizza. Bruce yells at Kylie for taking a boy to her room and immediately orders all of her friends to leave the house. Embarrassed, Kylie decides to run away. Kylie hires a car service to take her to Khloe’s (her older half-sister’s) house. Eventually Kylie is returned home to her parents, Kris and Bruce. However, most cases involving runaway children are more serious.

Kylie is not the first child to run away from home and won’t be the last. The U.S. Department of Justice reports an estimated 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a study conducted over the span of one year.  The study also showed an alarming statistic – an average of 2,185 children are reported missing each day. According to the National Runaway Safeline, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year.

According to Ehow.com, “[c]hild runaway laws vary state by state but most states do not consider it illegal for minors to run away from home.” “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is filmed in California, and thus California and thus it is helpful to to an analysis of California law. In California it is not considered a crime for a juvenile (any person under the age of 18) to runaway from home. However, Ehow tells us the following states consider it a status offense when a juvenile runs away from home: 1) Georgia; 2) Idaho; 3) Kentucky; 4) Nebraska; 5) South Carolina; 6) Texas; 7) Utah; 8) West Virginia; 9) Wyoming. Conversely, under Canadian law, when a child runs away from home it is not considered a crime.

It is not a crime for a juvenile to run away from home in California.  The state  has adopted the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, which states juveniles who are believed to have run away from home can be detained and returned to the custody of a: 1) parent, 2) guardian, or 3) the court. Below are the applicable provisions of California law from the California Welfare and Institutions Codes.

Section 601.

(a) Any person under the age of 18 years who persistently or habitually refuses to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of his or her parents, guardian, or custodian, or who is beyond the control of that person, or who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violated any ordinance of any city or county of this state establishing a curfew based solely on age is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court.

Section 601.5.

(d) A minor may be referred to a Youth Referral Center by a parent or guardian, a law enforcement officer, a probation officer, a child welfare agency, or a school, or a minor may self-refer. A minor may be referred to the program if the minor is at least 10 years of age and is believed by the referring source to be at risk of justice system involvement due to chronic disobedience to parents, curfew violations, repeat truancy, incidents of running away from home, experimentation with drugs or alcohol, or other serious behavior problems. Whenever a minor is referred to the program, the Youth Referral Center shall make an initial determination as to whether the minor is engaged in a pattern of at-risk behavior likely to result in future justice system involvement, and, if satisfied that the minor is significantly at risk, the center shall initiate a family assessment. The family assessment shall identify the minor’s behavioral problem, the family’s circumstances and relationship to the problem, and the needs of the minor or the family in relation to the behavioral problem. The assessment shall be performed using a risk and needs assessment instrument, based on national models of successful youth risk and needs assessment instruments and utilizing objective assessment criteria, as appropriate for the clientele served by the program. At a minimum, the assessment shall include information drawn from interviews with the minor and with the parents or other adults having custody of the minor, and it shall include information on the minor’s probation, school, health, and mental health status to the extent such information may be available and accessible.

Section 625.

A peace officer may, without a warrant, take into temporary custody a minor:

(a) Who is under the age of 18 years when such officer has reasonable cause for believing that such minor is a person described in Section 601 or 602, or

(b) Who is a ward of the juvenile court or concerning whom an order has been made under Section 636 or 702, when such officer has reasonable cause for believing that person has violated an order of the juvenile court or has escaped from any commitment ordered by the juvenile court, or

(c) Who is under the age of 18 years and who is found in any street or public place suffering from any sickness or injury which requires care, medical treatment, hospitalization, or other remedial care.

In any case where a minor is taken into temporary custody on the ground that there is reasonable cause for believing that such minor is a person described in Section 601 or 602, or that he has violated an order of the juvenile court or escaped from any commitment ordered by the juvenile court, the officer shall advise such minor that anything he says can be used against him and shall advise him of his constitutional rights, including his right to remain silent, his right to have counsel present during any interrogation, and his right to have counsel appointed if he is unable to afford counsel.

Section 625.1.

Any minor who is taken into temporary custody pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 625, when the peace officer has reasonable cause for believing the minor is a person described in Section 602, or pursuant to subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 625, may be requested to submit to voluntary chemical testing of his or her urine for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs. The peace officer shall inform the minor that the chemical test is voluntary. The results of this test may be considered by the court in determining the disposition of the minor pursuant to Section 706 or 777. Unless otherwise provided by law, the results of such a test shall not be the basis of a petition filed by the prosecuting attorney to declare the minor a person described in Section 602, nor shall it be the basis for such a finding by a court pursuant to Section 702.

Ehow provides a general overview of child runaway laws in other states.

In most areas, child runaways can legally be returned to their homes by law enforcement at any time and against the child’s wishes. In states where it is illegal to run away, children may be punished with probation or may just be returned home. Even in states where it is not illegal for minors to run away, a child who repeatedly attempts to run away may end up in court. That can result in punishment such as a fine, a mandatory drug screening, and suspended drivers license. In many states, adults who help a child run away by offering assistance or shelter can be convicted of harboring a runaway, which is a misdemeanor.

When a child runs away from home multiple times, they may be considered a “habitual runaway”. LiveStrong.com explains habitual runaways:

If a minor continues to run away frequently, the child can be labeled as a habitual runaway. With this the courts may order that the child is in need of supervision. This is ordered because the court has determined that the parents are not capable of taking care of the child. The child in need of supervision process is used in 34 states, according to the American Bar Association. With this program the child may be required to take mandatory drug testing, can possibly receive fines and punishments, and at times have their driving privileges suspended.

Parents may be liable for the acts their children commit when they run away. However some states have enacted laws which limit the liability of the parents for the actions of their runaway children. The chief analyst for the OLR Research Report, Saul Spigel, noted the problems with limiting  liability which may be placed on the parent’s of runaway children. Saul suggests a solution to state legislatures – “make parents liable for damages their children cause only if a court finds that they (the parents) failed to exercise reasonable supervision.” However, Saul states this approach “would create an extra judicial step and potentially reduce victim’s compensation.”

Enotes describes the less stringent application of parental responsibility laws:

Although some states impose criminal liability on parents of delinquent youth, many more have enacted less stringent types of parental responsibility laws. Kansas, Michigan, and Texas require parents to attend the hearings of children adjudicated delinquent or face contempt charges. Legislation in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia requires parents to pay the court costs associated with these proceedings. Other states impose financial responsibility on parents for the costs incurred by the state when youth are processed through the juvenile justice system. Florida, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia require parents to reimburse the state for the costs associated with the care, support, detention, or treatment of their children while under the supervision of state agencies. Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, and Oklahoma require parents to undertake restitution payments.

Parents are not the only individuals who may find themselves in trouble with the law. Other individuals who associate with runaways could possibly face legal problems as well. Landlords who harbor runaways and people who room with runaways may also be in violation of the law. To read more click here.

Double-Edged Sword

The special one-hour season 5 finale of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” aired on October 25, 2010. The episode centered on Khloe’s birthday celebration thrown on the yacht of a family friend in New York. In hopes of endless birthday fun, Kourtney, Kim, and Kris hop on a flight to NYC, but Bruce decides to stay behind.

Disgruntled about spending the weekend without the girls, Bruce decides to use the time to bond with his step-son, Rob. Rob talks Bruce into a night out on the town. To make the outing more enjoyable Rob invites his guy friends and the girls from the band BG5. While out on the town Bruce finds it hard to let loose and enjoy the young Hollywood club scene.

As Bruce sits and complains he is “too old” to be out partying, Rob changes his mind by showing him a picture Kris sends via text from the yacht party. The photo shows Kris draped around a stripper pole. Bruce takes one look at the picture and immediately makes it his new mission of the night to party like a rock star. Bruce shows off his dance moves and drinks the night away.

At the close of the night, Bruce decides to get behind the wheel in order to drive back to his home in Calabasas, California. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles if an individual’s blood alcohol concentration level is .08% or above that individual may be arrested for driving under the influence. While it is unclear how much alcohol Bruce has consumed, it seems apparent from his actions, speech and appearance he is likely over the legal limit.  TV Guide posted a clip from the night on their website. The clip is titled, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Wild Boys” and the description reads: “Season 5, Episode 11: Bruce gets his ears pierced while out on the town with Rob and the guys. Plus, check out their drunken drive-thru trip.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission released a recent study in August which indicated an estimated 17 million people have driven drunk at least once during the past year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission’s study also revealed 1 in 5 Americans have driven within 2 hours of drinking alcohol in the past year and 4 out of 5 Americans identify drunk driving as a “major threat” to their safety. This “major threat” is not only a perception by the American public; it is in fact, a reality. MADD reports as many as 2 million drunk drivers are on the road at any given time.

While these statistics seem alarming, we must ask ourselves – do we encourage and support drunk driving through reality television shows? Since reality shows took off in 1990 they have been associated with alcohol. In fact, some of the most memorable reality show moments from the past ten years involve alcohol consumption. Commentators question whether producers intentionally provide the cast of reality shows with alcohol to make for juicier footage. A New York Times article claims reality show veterans have revealed alcohol is one of many producers’ favorite tools. Dave Kerpen, the star of Fox’s reality dating show “Paradise Hotel”, revealed in the same article, he downed 8 long island ice teas on his first night of filming (click here to read the entire article). The article also stated, Sarah Kozer, a contestant on “Joe Millionare” stated she was drunk or close to it on 90% of her on-air scenes. Stuart Krasnow, an Oxygen Network producer has stated to the New York Times he would be willing to bet his mortgage there has been a reality show producer who has “used alcohol to get more out of their contestants.” Producers who encourage alcohol consumption on set should be aware this behavior might lead to possible network liability issues as well problems with legal capacity.

Whether or not alcohol consumption is induced by producers or consumed by reality show stars as a result of their own free will, one result remains – alcohol and its effects are broad-casted across television every minute of the day. The season finale of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is not the only time the Kardashian family has been associated with drinking and driving. In March of 2007, Khloe was arrested for driving under the influence (see mug shot below).

The episode documenting Khloe’s arrest aired during an earlier season of the show. A month later, Khloe decided to speak out against drinking and driving on an episode of the The Tyra Banks Show for this very reason it seems television may be a double-edged  sword. When it comes to the issue of drinking and driving critics might argue television condones or even promotes drinking and driving. Others would argue it has been the best medium of reducing the number of individuals who get behind the wheel after consuming alcoholic beverages.

The positive effects of using television as a medium to stop drinking and driving are evident. This upcoming holiday season will mark the 22 ad anniversary of the U.S. Designated Drivers Campaign. The U.S. Designated Drivers Campaign is a commercial advertising campaign created by the Harvard School of Public Health in partnership with all major Hollywood studios and prominent prime-time television networks such as ABCCBS, and NBC to prevent drunk driving. Click here to read about the television media strategy.

The entertainment industry has taken a further stand against drunk driving through the formation of RADDRADD, also known as the “Entertainment Industry’s Voice for Road Safety”, is a non-profit group internationally recognized for advocating road safety. The group focuses on sending messages through television and other outlets which are “non-judgmental, hip and positive.” RADD encourages the use of designated drivers, making responsible road behavior the norm, wearing a seatbelt, and safe driving through control behind the wheel. RADD is best known for its two most recognizable slogans, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and “Your lifestyle is your business. Don’t take it on the road.”  Various celebrities have been used in numerous commercials for the program throughout the years to discourage drinking and driving. RADD also has a long list of celebrity supporters including ZZ TopMarc AnthonyAlice CooperAerosmithBarry Bonds, and The Who.

With the good comes the bad. While some may argue television shows such as “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” condone and even promote drinking and driving, others point to the television as a valuable tool used to fight that very activity.

Blurred Vision

On the September 21 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians,  “Kourt Goes A.W.O.L”, Kourtney decides she cannot handle her family’s rejection of her baby’s daddy, Scott. Sick and tired of how the Kardashian Klan treats Scott, Kourtney and Scott decide to go house hunting in New York City.

A real estate agent shows a posh NYC apartment to the couple. As the couple walks throughout the lovely residence, the artwork hanging in the apartment is blurred so that viewers cannot see the images.  This practice raises an interesting question. What legal problems might producers face when artwork inadvertently appears in background shots?

Literary works which include paintings such as the one in this episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, must be licensed for use from the people or institutions who own the rights. This is because the Copyright Act gives creators of artwork the exclusive right to sell and make money from their creations for the period of the copyright (if the creators haven’t transferred the right). Www.creativeclearance.com reminds us the Copyright Act provides substantial penalties for copyright infringement. Damages for accidental infringement are usually around $10,000 and willful infringement can cost the infringer up to $250,000.

Www.artbusiness.com tells us, “[w]hether the art appears in print, on television, in film, or on the internet, issues of copyright infringement are more prevalent than ever. Artists who realize that their art is being used without their permission almost always assume that their artistic copyright has been violated and that they must take corrective action, legal or otherwise.” This wave of suits has caused producers to err on the side of caution. Www.artbusiness.com points out a problem this has caused. “Now, less art by fewer artists is seen in high-profile circumstances due to fears that the artists may take legal action. The ripple effect here is that when people don’t get exposed to original art, they’re not inclined to buy it.”

However, legal issues aren’t the only reason artwork may be blurred. Artists may blur their work because they do not want others mimicking their styles or simply because they do not wish to receive thousands of calls requesting a copy of a work they no longer produce. Another reason artwork might be blurred may be because the network producing the show does not wish to have the artwork associated with its show.

Fake Fixes Lead to Real Problems

On the September 12 episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians titled “Botox and Cigarettes,” Kim crumbles under the pressure of Hollywood to remain young, vibrant, and beautiful. Kim is surrounded by people telling her she is getting older, Kris tells Kim “stress ages you” and plucks a grey hair from her head. Kendall points out to Kim the press is dubbing her a Cougar due to her recent photo shoot in the Bahamas with young pop star Justin Bieber. Khloe steps in and tries to be the voice of reason by trying to convince Kim not to go through with Botox injections.

Despite Khoe’s desperate pleas, Kim makes the decision to go in for a Botox consultation. Khloe accompanies Kim to her consultation at Lift, MD Aesthetics. At the consultation, Kim asks the doctor to explain the possible side effects of Botox injections. The doctor responds by stating to Kim, “Serious side effects are rare and the benefits of Botox outweigh the risks.” Kim decides to go through with the procedure and schedules an appointment.

After the appointment, Kim’s eyes start to swell, itch, water, and burn. The next day, Kim’s face is seriously bruised and she has developed a painful headache. With new and popular drugs such as Botox popping up often, a new question arises: what is a sufficient warning concerning the likely side effects or contraindications when using these products? Are there magic words a physician must say? Or do those seeking the Fountain of Youth simply assume the risk?

Botox is the trade name for botulinum toxin type A, which has been described by the Journal of the American Medical Association as “the most poisonous substance known.” PubMed lists a number of side effects for Botox, some of which Kim exhibits.

In May, Mark & Associates PC and McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore LLP announced a $15 million dollar verdict against Allergan, Inc. (a Botox producer), after a jury found the company was negligent for failing to provide sufficient warnings about potential Botox side effects. The two law firms are currently representing numerous clients who have been injured as a result of Botox injections.

The lawsuit which eventually led to a jury verdict of $15 million against Allergen, Inc., alleged Botox injections led to severe and disabling side effects. The plaintiff, an obstetrician and gynecologist, suffered botulism poisoning after receiving Botox injections and was forced to sell her medical practice as well as step down from her position as medical director at a hospital in Oklahoma City.
This is likely to be just the beginning. The firms’ next Botox trial will be the case of a 70-year-old nurse who died in 2008 after she received Botox injections to ease her neck pain. The trial is scheduled to begin in Santa Ana, California, this month.

So, what steps has the FDA taken to address possible side effects of Botox? Effective September of 2009 the FDA required producers such as Allergen, Inc. to provide safety updates and participate in the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program for all botulinum toxin products approved in the US, including Botox. This is designed to aid physicians and patients alike. Hopefully, this will lead to more informed doctors which in turn will lead to more informed patients.

Unfortunately, Kim Kardashian is not the only celebrity feeling the pressure to remain forever young. Demand for Botox has infiltrated the marketplace, from Hollywood starlets to average middle class America. This has created another legal problem, the demand for counterfeit Botox products.

The demand for counterfeit Botox products which contain deadly neurotoxin has encouraged the proliferation of illicit toxin producers. In August of 2009 five well known plastic surgeons, a nurse, and their office manager pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in federal court after admitting they ordered and used an unapproved Botox-like drug to treat more than 150 patients.

The cases against these doctors have stirred controversy because many of them said they thought the drug was legal and were duped by slick marketing tactics. The five doctors are among roughly two hundred physicians nationwide alleged to have purchased or used fake Botox.

By the end of the episode Kim vows to never go through with Botox injections again and piles on makeup to cover the bruises on her face. Her actions and words lead us to question whether the benefits of Botox outweigh the risks as Kim’s doctor suggests during her consultation.

Here’s a clip from “Botox and Cigarettes,” courtesy of Hulu.com.

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