How 2016 Became The Year Of Rob & Chyna
Back in January, there was a certain internet rumor that made me stare at my screen in disbelief: Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna were supposedly dating. All it took was one black-and-white selfie for these two to start a conversation that hasn't stopped for the past 12 months. For this reason, I'd argue that Rob and Chyna are 2016's most talked about couple. I mean, yes, there was that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie commotion. And don't forget about all the celeb breakups that broke fans' hearts (Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston? Demi Lovato and Wilmer Valderrama?). But nobody garnered the same level of attention — or the same longevity of attention — as the couple dubbed ChyRo.
Considering Chyna's rocky history with the Kardashian family (and the tangled web of being the mother of Kardashian's sister Kylie Jenner's boyfriend Tyga's baby — wow, what a mouthful), these two seemed doomed from the start. Nobody took their relationship seriously. There are a few possible explanations as to why. Compared to the rest of his famous family, Kardashian has been the most ostracized. He spent years out of the spotlight, following weight gain and depression. Yet instead of receiving sympathy, he was mostly mocked. Meanwhile, Chyna is a former stripper, which led people to make an unfair, sexist assumptions — namely, that she was just seeking fame and money. Still, these same factors that sparked public distrust are simultaneously what kept the conversation going.
They may not be your typical celebrity couple, for reasons outlined above, but they've been major headline-grabbers in pop culture this year. And even if people don't proclaim themselves ChyRo's number one fans, they still care enough to talk about their actions. Instead of adoration, this appears to be a different sort of obsession — one rooted in shock value and disbelief. Whatever the reason was that they garnered attention, there's no denying that they were continually a top of conversation.
Here's a look back at how Kardashian and Chyna's relationship was covered throughout 2016, making them the most talked about duo of the year — hands down.
A Skeptical Beginning
When the news of them dating first broke, plenty of people were skeptical of Chyna's intentions. A story titled "Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna Are Dating, but There's Drama" on E! cited a source, who said the family was concerned Chyna was "preying" on Kardashian "during a weak time." This ties into the idea that Chyna was seen by some fans as an attention-seeker. Their relationship definitely raised some eyebrows, considering Kardashian previously was hiding out, yet suddenly, he was back and making headlines — with a woman who had a history of drama with his family, no less.
Later that month, TMZ posted a story called "Insane Road Trip To Get Chyna Out Of Texas." It recapped how Chyna was arrested for alleged public intoxication at an Austin airport and her new boo drove cross-country to her rescue. At the time, Chyna's rep told Bustle, "At this present time Blac Chyna has no comment but is currently focusing on her career & future endeavors." Considering what a huge road trip this was and the fact that the two had just started dating, it got approached as "insane." Fair? Not necessarily, but again, it serves as proof to the public spectacle that was their love story.
Still during January, there were rumors of feuds between Kardashian and two of his sisters, Kylie and Khloé. For instance, take this Perez Hilton headline: "Khloé Kardashian Shares A Cryptic Message About Family Loyalty After Rob Kardashian & Blac Chyna Go Public! Is There A New Feud??" The gist of what happened was that Khloé tweeted a warning about not going "against the family," and people were quick to assume this meant she felt dissed by her brother. That's because Kardashian reportedly moved out of Khloé's home to live with Chyna.
This news raised the question of whether there actually was drama within the family, or the public wanted there to be. Either way, the speculation continued.
A Slight Shift?
Finally, did it happen? Did people take ChyRo more seriously? Well, sort of. In May, BuzzFeed's Sylvia Obell took a brilliant deep-dive into Chyna and Kardashian's relationship in a piece titled "How Blac Chyna Beat The Kardashians At Their Own Game." In the article, she explores how Chyna rose to fame in a way similar to the Kardashian sisters themselves, despite their different upbringings. It's the kind of thing that may flip your perspective on the model and cause you to give credit where credit is due. Instead of Chyna being viewed as a mastermind after Kardashian's money, she suddenly appeared as driven and self-sufficient.
Then in June, the premiere date was revealed for the couple's E! series, Rob & Chyna . The reality show debuted in September and served as the public's first real look at the couple. According to Deadline, Rob & Chyna broke TV records, becoming "cable’s most watched unscripted launch this year." Pulling in a reported 2.7 million viewers, the show also was the most tweeted about non-sports series during its Sunday premiere, Deadline reported. Whether this meant fans adored the show — or were intrigued by the dramatic teaser trailers — they got people to tune in.
Acceptance & Positivity
Finally, the skepticism transformed into joy. In November, Dream Kardashian was born. Instead of headlines about family feuds, there were stories about Kendall Jenner gushing over her new niece. On an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the model said, "She’s a dream — she’s so beautiful... [Rob is] so happy and it makes me so happy I could literally cry. He’s like, the cutest. I love it." Meanwhile, Chyna, Kardashian, and Kris Jenner did a Mannequin Challenge in the delivery room. Trendy, over-the-top, and very on-brand. And once again, they got people talking.
The positive spin on news about them could have been because babies bring happiness, or maybe people thought they'd finally survived the bumpy road of their relationship. Regardless, soon after the baby's birth, there were stories about how adorable Dream was wearing her dad's sock line — everywhere from Us Weekly to E! Online to here on Bustle. People dubbed the photos "angelic." Suddenly, ChyRo's kid was up there with other celebrity babies, in terms of rampant discussion about the name and cute photos. The side-eyes and negativity had lessened.
Another Rough Patch
Because nothing is ever easy, the year ended similarly to how it began — with speculation and unexpected drama. Kardashian caused quite a stir when claiming Chyna left him and took their daughter — she even allegedly stole his Eggo waffles. Chyna's Instagram was infiltrated with supposed screenshots, where someone claiming to be her said she planned to leave Kardashian. BuzzFeed published a story called "So WTF Is Happening Between Blac Chyna And Rob Kardashian?" while the Daily Beast featured an article titled, "Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian’s Curious Thirst for 'Scandal.'"
Obviously, the internet had a field day, and it felt like things were back at square one. So many memes surfaced that even Kardashian shared them on his own page. But the very next day, Kardashian took responsibility for the situation. He posted another Instagram with a photo of Dream and wrote, "I am going to get better for you Dream. You are my life and gave me a new start on being a better me. Love you." He also posted a photo with his fiancée and wrote, "I apologize and I'm seeking help to deal with my flaws/issues. Please pray for me and I'm sorry @blacchyna. You are a great mother to our child and I love you." On her own page, Chyna shared a screenshot of the message with a simple heart emoji.
However, the situation became more tumultuous. Rumors surfaced that Chyna allegedly beat Kardashian before leaving, according to E! Online. Bustle reached out to Kardashian and Chyna's reps for comment at the time, but did not receive a response. Regardless, accusations of violence are serious and should not be taken lightly. While their relationship has repeatedly been a source of memes or mockery, this is one topic that shouldn't warrant jokes. Despite the rumors, Chyna still appears to be standing by Kardashian. When he was reportedly hospitalized for a medical emergency on Wednesday, Dec. 28, E! reported that Chyna joined his mom, Kris Jenner, to be by his side.
While I have no idea what will happen next for these two, I do know 2016 wouldn't have been the same without ChyRo. If there wasn't such a public interest in their lives, they wouldn't have been the subjects of so many stories — even if half the time, those stories were rooted in rumors. From the good to the bad to the ugly, they were the year's most conversation-starting couple. Until next year, that is.