When the Kardashian family announced the end of E!’S Keeping up with the Kardashians in 2020, it seemed like the end of an era. There were retrospectives, crying goodbye and even reunion shows to mark a magnificent farewell. But if we really thought we were done keeping up, we learned nothing from the 20 seasons.
Just three months later, Disney announced that the family had signed an agreement to produce “new global content” for Hulu – but what exactly did this vague announcement mean? A revival of the hit talk show of the day Kris? The addition of Armenia to Disney Worlds Epcot? Sponsored posts for The apostasy? It turns out that it essentially meant the continuation of Keeping up with the Kardashians, without the first three words. But just like Keeping up evolved over the years to adapt to the changing lives of the family, this new chapter provided an opportunity to reset how they share their stories. And with that recalibration and new home came the longest gap the family has been away from television in 15 years.
But finally, our long national nightmare is over. After a ten-month absence, the Kardashian family is back on our screens, and what better way to start this new chapter than with drones? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a bird trapped in Kylie Cosmetics headquarters? If so, the opening of their new show has you covered, with drone footage hovering from one sister to the next through the Calabasas sky.
That’s the first big difference between this show and its predecessor, but just when you might be worried that too much has changed, Kendall uses his drone shot to call sick from the first family group scene. Ah, this is the show we know and love. (Later, Kendall clarifies in a confessional that she actually had COVID, but promises that she will return to shoot the rest of the season – which I will believe when I see it.) This “Avengers Assemble” montage brings camera family together for a barbecue at Kim’s home.
What our girls call a barbecue is something to see: monochromatic ballpark slides, silver buffet serving trays, and clothing that I otherwise would never have thought of describing as clothing. A pregnant Kylie arrives and Kim (correctly) predicts she will have a boy; Kris greets Tristan by saying, “Why did I think you were into basketball?” as if he were on a middle school CYO team; and Rob is welcomed with… just for fun! Rob is obviously not there.
The series is filmed a little more as a documentary than a reality show that matches the Kardashians’ long-standing love of breaking the fourth wall (their new intro even has a CGI glass wall smashing in front of them). At one point, Kim – a modern Fleabag – looks directly into the camera as she makes herself a plate of chicken nuggets to tell us that sometimes she’s just vegan.
We also get new confessional writings, some of which have been filmed on the go – a change that seems less like a “stylistic” decision and more like a “Kourtney wanted to spend less time filming confession stories”. The formal, seated confessionals now appear to have been shot in their identical taupe homes, and they look like all of Khloé’s Nurtec ODT commercials.
Although the grill was clearly meant to create the show’s first major plot point, with Kim announcing her family that she will be hosting Saturday Night Live, the gods have even more drama in store. As the accomplished professional he is, Saint waits for the cameras to be up and rolling before strolling over to Kim with a revelation on his iPad. Apparently on Roblox, a character with Kim’s “crying face” mentions a “new sex tape.” Saint, like Kendall, can not read – so he thinks it’s funny that his mother is a video game character, as we all do when our mothers are video game characters. But he immediately realizes that he has made a serious mistake and his little face falls when his iPad is suddenly gone and his mother sues his favorite game.
Now the thing is: I do not know what Roblox is, nor should I. It’s bad enough that the Kardashians have made me acquire an understanding of sports at the surface level, but now they are introducing video games into the equation – which is something I thought we left with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.
While Kim sews her lawyers on Roblox, she prepares SNL, which mostly involves making long ponytails and sitting by racks of colorful bodysuits that look like they were made by Book Sox. We also get our first mention of Pete Davidson, who Kim says calmed her nerves over being the host while they were at the Met Gala. As you imagine this conversation, keep in mind that Pete was in his Holly Golightly, DDS costume, and Kim was dressed from head to toe in black fabric – a classic meeting-sweet.
And even though Kim claims she’s not funny, she only refers to Debra Messing as “the girl from Will & Grace”(That Laura’s mysteries deletion) when discussing her rude tweet about Kim’s host SNL – which at least gives Kim something to commit to Nicole Kidman over.
But among all SNL and Roblox Praj, the premiere gives us status updates on the three core issues – and thank God it does, because otherwise we would have no chance of knowing anything about them. Here are the updates:
Everyone except Kris saw this relationship coming, which apparently occurred when Kourtney took a step during a movie date. Kourtney does not say what movie they saw, so until further notice, I can only assume it was The nightmare before Christmas. They go to Travis’ studio, which appears to be just a bike shop because of the 100 bikes there, and he and Penelope find themselves in a drum-off – predictive warning about her possible pop-punk band called Poosh. Kourtney and Travis call each other “babe” six times in this episode.
The separated Kim and Kanye (who have not yet appeared on camera) are apparently in a positive place. Kim is even considering having him be the musical guest for her SNL concert (a power I did not know the hosts had) but luckily choose to have his own moment instead. She also mentions that Kanye wants to quit everything to become her full-time stylist. Someone just needs to give this man a Malibu Barbie and call it a day so he stops gathering these women just to play dress up.
For once, Tristan and Khloé give us the slightest drama. They are friendly co-parents, though she sometimes goes into therapy with him, which feels like a trap. As the couple happily begins to remember Tristan, who was unfaithful to Khloé when she was 9 months pregnant, he tries to change the subject by saying, “It’s 2021; we can not talk about 2018,” as if 2018 were his latest scam.
The strange man is Scott Disick, whose exclusion from the grill gives us a vintage plot that makes you question what year it is. Luckily, Kourtney jumps into a confessional to confirm that it’s actually seven years since they broke up, so how is it still a story? Something new that Scott brings to the table is his claim that he does not want to date teenagers anymore, which is understandable, because it must feel as if they are just using him to watch R-rated movies after a while .
But things did not seem so divided with Kourtney and Scott in the end Keeping up – so what changed? Well, for lunch between the three sisters who are actually filming for the show, Kourtney explains the split that arose after Scott DM’ed his ex (Younes) about her PDA, an offense Kourtney calls “contemptible” – which Khloé considers a big word. It is worth noting that this conversation takes place immediately after Khloé requests a Skims redesign, as she has a “larger vagina than most.” Look, Kimberley’s criminal justice reform is not the only activism happening in this show!
The episode’s drama rises with Kim on the phone with well-known lawyer Marty Singer as she is joined by Kris, Khloé and gothen Polly Pocket (Kourtney). It turns out that Roblox was only the beginning, and there is a looming threat that further sex-tape recordings from 20 years ago will be released. It’s an eerie full circle moment that even Khloé can’t help but point out (with the positive spin that it’s a good omen for the new show). IN KUWTK episode one, Kim had to deal with a sex tape as she prepares to fly to New York to continue Tyra Banks Show. Today, she is doing the same as she prepares to go to an equally important television institution, Saturday Night Live.
As awful as it is, the band’s re-entry into the conversation provides a fascinating and powerful look at the changing way our culture affects these situations – and how different it is from 20 years ago. Kim is careful in her wording and sharply (and correctly) removes any kind of guilt from herself by refusing to call the tape a mistake. “It’s not the most outrageous thing, and I’m not going to feel that way,” she says, taking firm control of a narrative that has been imposed on her all these years.
But unlike in 2007, she now has four children to think about, but she also has all the money, resources and power to fight. And in true reality TV fashion, while a fight is bubbling up, these three magic words come in: To be continued.