The Newest Famous Family Takes Air


In 2019, 15-year-old Charli D’amelio lived in suburban Connecticut with her mom, dad, and sister, occasionally posting TikTok videos on the internet. Now, Charli lives in Hollywood, California with her family, holding the title of the largest following on TikTok of 124.5 million followers—over a third of the United State’s population. Using their TikTok success, her family has made a transition into the television industry with the release of their reality TV show: The D’amelio Show on September 3, 2021.
Charli’s transition from a high-school student to a reality TV star all started because of her TikTok fame. She had been dancing since age three, and started competitively dancing at age five as a member of the JC Studio: The Spot in Norwalk. While dancing and attending school at Kings High School she was active on TikTok and Instagram. She posted vlogs, dances, and lip-syncing videos, similar to most users on the app. The most notable of Charli’s viral videos was her dance to the popular TikTok sound; “Lottery (Renegade)”, in which she danced to a thirty second choreographed clip of the song.
Following that video, Charli’s platforms began to grow exponentially. In November of 2019, she organized a meet-and-greet and danced on stage with singer Bebe Rexa, all while living in Connecticut with her family. Finally in December of 2019, she and Dixie joined a popular content house in LA: The Hype House. Content houses like this combine the stars’ content by enabling them to collaborate on videos which increases their viewership. By March, Charli had surpassed all other influencers on the app, and became the most followed person on TikTok. From this, she accomplished a Super Bowl commercial, a contract with UTA (United Talent Agency), and many other endorsements. As Charli’s fame increased, so did her family’s. Her sister, Dixie, used her platform to start-up her music career, releasing her first single in June of 2020. Additionally, both Marc and Heidi D’amelio established a presence on TikTok. Each surpassed upwards of ten million followers.
Following the end of the popular reality TV show, Keeping up with the Kardashians on June 20, 2021, president of the D’amelio Family Enterprises, Greg Goodfried, worked with Hulu executives to create a show starring the D’amelios. In doing so, Charli, Dixie, Heidi, and Marc D’amelio became the newest leads and executive producers of the D’amelio show.
Similar to the D’amelio’s, the Kardashians are a primary example of famous families taking over pop culture’s attention. Starting on October 14th of 2007, Keeping up with the Kardashians, a reality show following the famous family, was first released. The Kardashians’ widely-known name came from their upbringing in a socialite environment. This transitioned into a reality show, and now, that fame is the foundation of the brands they’ve created on social medias like Instagram and TikTok.
However, with Keeping up with the Kardashians recently going off air, this opened the perfect opportunity for the D’amelio’s to take their place. Meaning, the D’amelio’s fame had a similar, but opposite evolution. They first received viral fame on social media (TikTok) and then translated that following into a reality show.
Similar to KUWTKs and typical reality television, The D’amelio show uses unscripted and close-up footage to follow the stars on events that were previously covered by the media; the show addresses activities that have already happened or have already been released to the public. For the D’amelio’s these events included: Charli and Dixie going to the 2021 Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards, Charli making it on the Time’s New York Times Top 100 list, Dixie’s music video and live music debut, and the sisters’ release of their clothing line: Social tourist.
Similar to KUWTK, the show switches from documenting these events chronologically to independently held interviews with each family member. As a result, the show mirrors the typical reality TV fashion, in which outsiders are able to see the glorified activities of a celebrity’s life.
However, the D’amelio Show draws viewership because of the family’s relatability which is a contrast to the drama-filled and outrageous plots of the Kardashian’s lives. For example, KUWTK episodes include: Khloé executing elaborate pranks on Kris with Scott Disick, documentation of and insight on Kim being robbed at gun-point in Paris, or the cheating scandal between Klohé’s baby daddy and Kylie’s best friend.
Additionally, when the Kardashian family is interviewed about these moments, they just re-account the incidents in broad terms, whereas The D’amelio show features several in depth interviews where the family give heart-felt commentary in front of the camera. Specifically, Charli deals with the mental and physical afflictions that her fandom on social-media cause her. Charli explains that “[her] job is never over.” Working nine-five pm everyday, filming content, interviews, several business meetings, and also managing the toxicity of the internet’s feedback, she doesn’t “know how long anyone expects [her] to keep going as if nothing is wrong.” Through exposing the complexities of Charli’s life, beyond fame, we see that wealth does not guarantee happiness. The show does a great job at documenting the person behind her internet persona. Therefore, unlike KUWTK, The D’amelio Show humanizes the family, instead of glorifying their fame.
Since reality TV offers an insight into what pop-culture perceives as important: the shift of socialites and A-list celebrity stars to a family centered in a social media fandom, highlights the cultural entrance into a new era around social media. Thus the D’amelio show authentically documents the complexity of this era being both positive and negative. The positive being the opportunities presented to a famous individual, including: events, wealth, brand deals, etc., but unlike other reality shows, it counters those opportunities with the negative toll it takes on that person’s well-being. Therefore the D’amelio Show levels out the pedestal that reality shows have previously put celebrities on, and forces viewers to question, in this era of viral fame, should stardom be a goal to aspire to or a fate to avoid?