Does anyone still care about the Kardashians? At moments during the first episode of season three of their Disney+ series, The Kardashians, even the Hollywood reality clan seemed bored by the hype.
Not that there is much hoopla to go around. Kim, perhaps the best-known of the family, has wisely kept her four children off-screen and is circumspect about her troubled relationship with her ex, Kanye West. She’s right. Yet who would have thought that Kim Kardashian would be the one to give us life lessons about the dangers of oversharing?
Heavens, though: it makes for dishwater-hued TV. Brand Kardashian has become so valuable that the family ration what they put into the world, even on their own reality series. And so, rather than give the inside scoop on their fab life, part one features endless dreary interviews in which Kim, Khloé, Kourtney and their mother, Kris, sit on antiseptic white couches and shoot the breeze.
They have, in their defence, lots to discuss. Kim has split from her boyfriend of nine months, the comedian Pete Davidson. (“Break-ups are not my thing,” she says.) Khloé has a cancer scare while recovering from the emotional fallout of her recent surrogacy experience. (“I felt guilty this woman just had a baby and I take the baby — it’s such a transactional experience.”)
‘I miss breakfast rolls and the sense of humour but our life in the US has been as normal as anyone else’s with young kids’
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Kourtney is hoping to have a child with her husband, the musician Travis Barker — so vanishes for 15 minutes when her ovulation alarm goes off. It’s an experience that the visiting Khloé understandably considers triggering.
Viewers are more likely to be triggered by the surprise appearance of James Corden, who pops up at a party thrown by the Kardashians and is too busy even to give the waiting staff a hard time. Having moved on from that unpleasant surprise, the heart of the episode is in the final five minutes when Kim discusses her complicated dynamic with Kanye and complains that he is constantly reminding people about her sex tape of more than a decade ago.
“My tape — he brings it up all over town,” she tells her mother. “Thanks for reminding people once again. All of his shenanigans is going to be far more damaging to the kids one day than my tape will ever be. I have to sit here and not say anything. I know one day my kids will appreciate that.”
It’s an unexpected outbreak of real emotion at the end of an instalment full of the synthetic kind. Rather than reel you in, though, it breaks the spell.
Understandably, Kim Kardashian would rather live in the real world and discreetly deal with her real problems. It’s draining to watch her struggle to reconcile that human instinct with her contractually obliged parallel existence as a creature of reality TV. For her sake and ours, perhaps she’d be better off ripping off her mic, sending the camera crew home, and telling them to never return.