They Finally Admit Everyone Hates Their Show

Written by on June 1, 2023

The Kardashians are well aware that their latest reality show is a flop. (Well, for now, at least, until Kim Kardashian starts dating Tom Brady publicly.)

Despite gifting Hulu with the most-watched premiere in the streamer’s history in 2021, The Kardashians, now in its third season, has hardly been met with the same enthusiasm, memes, and, most Krucially, outrage as the family’s former E! juggernaut, Keeping With The Kardashians—or any of its myriad spin-offs, for that matter. And fans have been vocal about their boredom watching the historically entertaining family chomp on salads and mill around their eerie-looking mansions.

Immediately after The Kardashians’ second season—which was a total dud, save for one quirky episode featuring Martha Stewart and a peacock—Kim Kardashian asked Twitter what sort of content her family should include in Season 3, with the same desperation as a car salesman. (“Do you guys like family stuff? Work stuff? Kids stuff? BTS of shoots? Family pranks?”) Now, in the latest episode, Kim and some of her family members are addressing viewers’ complaints head-on in one of the most bizarre, meta moments on reality TV, giving their (sort of) step-brother Brody Jenner’s iconic scene during the series finale of The Hills a run for his money.

About 10 minutes into this week’s episode, aggressively titled “Don’t Want It, Don’t Need it, I’m Done,” Kim sits down with her younger sister Khloé Kardashian and Kourney Kardashian’s ex, Scott Disick, to lament a Variety review that criticized the show’s essentially “plot-free” Season 2.

Infamously, that season kicked off with a particularly dreary Khloé-centered episode following the revelation that her ex-partner Tristan Thompson had secretly fathered a child with another woman while he and Khloé were preparing for the arrival of their second child via surrogacy. The season ends with the delivery of the baby. But Khloé refrains from discussing her family situation throughout the rest of Season 2. Rather foolishly, she and her relatives thought they could pull that silence off.

“There was an article [published during] in Season 2 of our show that said Khloé didn’t give enough of her Tristan situation,” Kim says in a confessional this week. “First of all, we filmed everything. We shared everything.”

“With my surrogacy, I was so fucking vulnerable,” Khloé says to Kim and Scott. “I was letting people into what I was struggling with.”

That’s… debatable. Yes, Khloé and the rest of the family addressed the situation, albeit in a minimal, obligatory fashion. Based on that somber baby shower her family threw for her, viewers could tell that going through the newfound experience of utilizing a surrogate, while yet another one of Thompson’s cheating scandals unfolds before the world, was hard on the third-eldest sister. But no one watches reality TV to read between the lines. What was barely even treated as subtext should’ve been text.

While the review acknowledges Khloé’s right to privacy—especially about something as precious as bringing a child into the world—Variety correctly pointed out the irony of withholding such a crucial storyline on a show designed to be a deeper exploration of their lives. Admittedly, if the family were willing to explore anything else—like Kylie’s relationship with her now-ex Travis Scott following the Astroworld tragedy, Kim’s tumultuous divorce from Kanye West, or her relationship with Pete Davidson—this omission wouldn’t feel as glaring.

Speaking of Davidson, Kim also defends her now-ex-boyfriend’s minimal appearances throughout the past season.

“The fans were like, ‘Pete’s not on the show,” Kim says in the episode. “‘I’m like we said that from the start. It’s not what he does.”

When Khloé adds that it’s “weird” to bring someone you’re newly dating on television, Kim says, “Then I opened up. Then I had him on the show. I talked about every last thing.”

“Right,” Disick chimes in. “What else do you want—to see us in bed together?”

The Kardashians has never really abided by the fourth-wall rule. In 2023, most reality shows, often bolstered by online drama, violate the separation between the audience and what’s playing out on screen. In the case of The Kardashians, the family members will outrightly mention “the show,” while filming said show. In an early episode in Season 1, Kourtney laments the way her new, “happy” life with now-husband Travis Barker is being depicted, as her ex, Disick, tries to remain on the show. The women also openly converse with a producer, who feeds them questions during their confessionals—another trope that’s become more common in unscripted television.

Maybe the producers think the removal of the barrier between the show and its audience adds a novel flair to an otherwise vanilla docuseries. In the case of this week’s episode, it does feel surreal watching the media moguls reckon with their dwindling entertainment value in a Bravo-fied, Love Is Blind-ridden landscape. Other times, though, their blatant gesturing at the camera has little-to-no function.

It wasn’t always this way. During the later stages of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the family was able to utilize the show as a PR device for their regularly scheduled controversies, like Kendall Jenner’s infamous Pepsi commercial and Kim ’s blackface accusations. At least then, viewers knew they had storylines to look forward to, and the Kardashians were almost always willing to address things bluntly. Even if you didn’t buy their tearful apologies and naivete about things like systemic racism, you at least had compelling footage to react to.

Now we get a bunch of scenes of Kim lamenting how difficult her life has become, as her ex-husband continues to drag her in the press. (Of course, she won’t disparage West on-camera to protect her kids.) In the first two episodes of this season, Khloe still seems uncomfortable discussing the birth of her second child, which is more interesting to speculate about than actually observe. In between more serious scenes, we have the most boringly staged segments of Kendall teaching Kylie how to drive stick for no apparent reason.

Whatever the family hopes to accomplish by addressing their critics directly—aside from potentially siccing their die-hard fans onto a journalist—it doesn’t substitute compelling TV.

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