Are Reality TV Stars living the “Good Life”?

Maya Francis

Everyone knows the show Keeping up with the Kardashians. Whether people want to or not, the whole world follows the lives of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe. Why? Reality TV. Reality TV has become insanely popular over the last few years, completely taking over TV channels. People watch reality shows and are presented with this image of a family who has its ups and downs but are overall happy.[1] People look at the Kardashians with envy for they have everything that they want and are living perfect lives, but do they really have those virtues that make a good life?

Aristotle, in Nicomachean Ethics, views the beginning of a good life as having the right means and the right end (purpose or goal)[2]. The right end should be happiness, which Aristotle believes is the true end for everyone, and the means to achieving happiness should be good. Looking at the Kardashians, their end is to get as rich as possible by putting their lives on TV and the means by which they obtain this are anything, ranging from posts on social media everyday to books filled with nude pictures. In fact, the primary objective of reality TV is to make money. The higher the ratings, the more the cash flow!

Desires, Aristotle argues, are a key part of living a good life.[3] The Kardashians have everything they could possibly want. They spend thousands of dollars on a pair of shoes or a handbag. What they want is not what they need. These wants, according to Aristotle, are acquired desires: someone that you think is good because you want it[4]. However, Aristotle argues that the natural desires (the things you need) are the desires that truly make a good life. These natural desires are the same for all people, and considering that I don’t own a $3000 handbag, the Kardashians do not have these natural desires.

Taking all of these additions for a good life into account, the main point Aristotle argues for a good life is that “the way to bridge the gap between knowledge of the good life and actually living it [is] through the development of a good moral character.”[5] This moral character is developed by having “moral virtues and excellence”.[6] Moral virtue, or the habit of making right choices, leads directly to a good life. [7] It’s no exaggeration to say that the Kardashians have no sense of moral virtue. Yes, they have great wealth, fame, and materialistic items, but they don’t have that ability to make right choices. Need proof? Kim Kardashian got married to basketball star Kris Humphries in 2011. Both Kim and her family believed that this was the right choice. Unfortunately, that marriage lasted for 72 days.

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics helps prove that reality TV stars, especially the Kardashians, don’t live the good life, even though their shows try to portray it.


[1] Dean Obeidallah, “Are the Kardashians Destroying America?”, CNN, 11/8/2011,

[2] John Messerly,”Aristotle on the Good Life”, Reason and Meaning, 12/19/2013,

[3] John Messerly, Aristotle on the Good Life”,

[4] John Messerly, Aristotle on the Good Life”,

[5] John Messerly, “Aristotle on the Good Life”,

[6] Bernardo Aparicio, “How to Find Happiness Without a Free Lunch,” Ursuline Academy, 6/22/2016, Book 2 Chapter 6

[7] John Messerly, “Aristotle on the Good Life”,

[8] “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, Wikia, 6/22/2016,  

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