The Kardashian family’s media approach was Swiss-watch-correct: First, an incident occurred in the family’s public life, and it was covered by the tabloid press at the time. Then, a few months later, the episode “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” aired on their E! A reality show where siblings chat directly to camera. This can trigger a new round of discussion where the family takes control of the narrative.
In Hulu’s “The Kardashians,” which stars Kim Kardashian and her mom and siblings in their new series, which executive produces with Ben Winston, the family’s control is getting tighter, but it’s missing the element that made the whole thing go. They still want our attention, but they find themselves without things they are willing to say. This manifests itself in many ways: For one thing, the old series used sitcom rhythms and crude lighting and camerawork to bring the viewer closer to the stars. Although they looked attractive, in the end they were just like the couch potato. When the family’s second new show ends Nov. 17, it looks like a tightly controlled document of the way the family sees itself, fashion-industry standard bearers, both with its extravagant aesthetic and its relentless push forward. in history.
Nothing happens on “The Kardashians”! It is somewhat shocking. Of course, there are literal events: this season, the series has released several episodes for Kim’s event and eventual appearance at the Met Gala, this time wearing a dress associated with Marilyn Monroe. (We’re told Kim is a “shape-shifter,” but watch her actual get-togethers only for a short time; the negotiations to allow her to wear the dress in the first place are off-camera, though Kim explains. It’s fun to watch!) And elsewhere, family members flock to Fashion Week and dress rehearsals. They go to Italy and prepare, in a snake-tail moment that could be mistaken for coming full circle. The premiere of their own show. But different family members have very little understanding of fashion, where they can express their taste and mood and any star, rather than talk about the dramas of their lives, their ability to target and share their emotions has made them so famous.
And here, that sand has been removed. The first episode of the season is set in the present, as Khloe reveals to the camera that she is due to have a baby in the near future, a situation she refuses to discuss on camera throughout the process. In such an emotional personal journey, her right to privacy is her own, but there’s a consistently funny way about opening up a family story to the world. The fact that such personal transformation takes place outside the camera’s line of sight re-emphasizes what we are allowed to see, and brings the mind to what it really is. (Endless discussion of the methods of decorating family private jets seems tasteless and a way to pass the time.)
Elsewhere, we hear that the family is about to sue Kim’s brother Rob’s ex (himself off camera) Blac Chyna, but they won’t be anywhere near a remote court, nor have they given much context as to why she’s suing. What we get from Kim and company are doubts about how the world sees truth. The rapper is now known as Ye, Kim’s ex-husband, is a non-existent presence, and Pete Davidson, who is now dating her ex-boyfriend after her marriage, appears only briefly. The latter seems less dangerous than Yee’s situation, which has dominated the news cycle this year with public statements of anti-Semitism. It’s easy to understand Kim’s willingness to go there to discuss one of the most easily provoked public figures of our time, but this show is as difficult to accept as any other version of her life. The wind of the event cannot hide the baggage it carries.
The “Kardashians” franchise has always been an attempt to reinvent reality: it started out as one of the Hollywood-adjacent fighters in a galaxy that happened just enough for the then-recent sex-tape scandal. Be a family. This was done better than expected. But now, the attempt to force us all to do what our family allows has reached a point. Consider the scene in the fourth episode of the season where several family members were interviewed for a video with my colleague Elizabeth Wagmeister. Difference Cover. Kim was then shocked that people were embarrassed by her voice, saying that she only said the part that the show saw, when she was encouraging women to get into work, and not the part that the show cut, which would make sense if she felt it. “Nobody wants to work these days.” This line reads as tone-deaf and privileged – the economic inequality that many feel is not due to laziness. The editing was spot on, a sign Team Kim and her showrunners were a little unwise in their actions.
Say this much: The Kardashians want to work, especially in a fashion-industry line that takes the world by storm, with vacations that are scheduled as big for many viewers. And they want to be seen doing it. It’s the only part of their heavily used lives they’re comfortable sharing. And even if they are not obliged to express what they prefer to remain silent, it will not be surprising if the public’s attention starts to push over time. The convention, historically, has been to follow the family’s understanding and explanations of their personal relationships. It might be more virtuous to get up and work your ass off. But it is much less interesting.