Revisiting Season 1 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Part 2

Photo: E!

Friends and fellow Kardashiatrixes, welcome to Part 2 of our look back at season one of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I had so much fun the first time around, I can hardly wait to see what crazy antics those Kardashians will get into over the remaining four episodes. We’ve got, let’s see, *checks notes*, death, drunk driving, unwanted pregnancies, homelessness, and child pornography.

So, yay. Let’s do this.

Episode five (“Remembering Dad”) finds Kim & Co mourning their father, Robert. It’s the fourth anniversary of his death from cancer, and everyone is sad, especially Khloé.

Now: If you were a normal television show, what would you do at this point?

Maybe tout the man’s accomplishments, his achievements; perhaps share specific, heartfelt details of his relationship with his family in order to convey the depth of emotion between him and his family. In short, you would foster and convey emotions in order to generate a feeling of sympathy in your audience, who would then think: Okay, yes, I did not know this man, but this is all very relatable and sad.

But KUWTK likes to zig when when you expect them to zag, so instead, we get haunting archival family footage which has been processed to look like B-roll from an episode of Ghost Hunters. We see Robert glaring down at us, glowing with some sort of otherworldly light, as the laughter of disturbed children echoes maniacally in the background.

It’s fucking terrifying, and I for real felt like we were about to segue into an episode about how — oh, by the way — ghosts are real, and Robert Kardashian rises from the grave every year on the anniversary of his death to possess Khloé’s body and inflict a night of pure terror on the local villagers.

So. A distraught Khloé drinks too much, gets pulled over by the cops, and is arrested for DUI (re-creation). She calls Kourtney from jail (re-creation) and instructs her not to tell Kim or Kris. Kourtney immediately calls Kim (re-creation). And the following day at lunch, Kim, tells Kris that her daughter is in jail (re-creation, probably?).

“It’s not funny,” Kim says, trying not to die laughing, “but Khloé’s in jail.”

Kris picks Khloé up at jail (re-creation) in a green tracksuit (re-creation of impossibly odd decision), they tell Bruce, Khloé apologizes, and everyone’s friends again.

The show ends with:

Robert Kardashian

splashed across the screen, which, look. I still get emotional when I think about Tom Hanks drinking the vanilla extract. The last episode of Boy Meets World? I am dead. “The Body” episode of Buffy? Don’t even talk to me about it. I am a non-bot human with actual emotions and a high propensity towards sentimentality. But this? I’m sorry, but the guy died four years previously, and if this episode was supposed to be some kind of testimonial to his life, it’s probably best that he wasn’t around to see it.

I’m sure there’s some pathos in that stone, Seacrest, maybe you’re not squeezing hard enough?

Episode six (“You Are So Pregnant, Dude”) opens with a very tired Kourtney. Khloé tells her she’s pregnant, which is a completely normal mental leap to make when confronted with a tired person.

Kourtney takes a pregnancy test but can’t figure out the results. User error? Poor information design? Irresponsible padding out of a thin episode? Who can say!

There is a B plot about Kendall wanting a puppy, and Bruce saying No, and Kris saying Well …. and I refuse to even acknowledge this plotline. I respect your time and mine too much, so much more than the creators of this show.

Kourtney goes to the gynecologist to find out if she’s actually pregnant or not. We find out she’s not, I think? I was mainly focused on the burly, collared white sweater Scott was wearing in this scene. I feel like I understand hate-fucking now.

Anyway, phew! Kourtney’s not pregnant. That’s another episode sorted, yeah?

What do you mean, we’ve only filled eight minutes of screentime?

What the hell are we supposed to for the rest of the episode? Go to Vegas for absolutely no reason?

“I’m not sure why we’re going to Vegas,” Kris says. “Right?” I scream, reaching up to the screen for a high five. So, trip to Vegas, nice hotel room, plenty of drinking, something about Kourtney and Scott potentially getting married in a quickie ceremony since Hey, we are in Vegas for some reason.

We know they’re not getting married, Kourtney and Scott know they’re not getting married, but they play through the scenes like two Twitter bots spitting Markov Chains at each other. If you ARE watching this episode at home, this is a super great time to check your Twitter or Tumblr, or maybe find a nice Wikipedia K-hole to crawl down. Mine was like: Secret societies in popular culturePrinciple of least astonishmentMisophonia (which I totally have, BTW!) → List of animals with fraudulent diplomas.

There’s some more stuff about Kendall’s secret dog and then the episode’s over! We did it! Love you guys! *emoji cat with heart eyes*

Since episode five focused on Khloé, and episode six was about Kourtney, surely episode seven (“Helping Hand”) will focus our attention back where we want it, back where it most needs to be: on Kim? No? We’re going to focus on Rob instead? Can someone please get fired for that?

Why does the show insist on giving equal time to everyone in the family? Kim is the show. Just focus on her, while everyone else in the family smacks each others’ butts in the background, and suddenly this is the best show ever. Five seconds of Kim fixing her hair in front of a mirror is more engaging, interesting, and frankly more rewarding than 28 minutes of anyone else doing anything.

So, Rob. Rob is young and single and on his way out the door for a date with a Playboy Playmate when he decides to let his sister Kourtney wax his chest. Khloé, it bears mentioning, sits astride his lap during this procedure. And then:

“I get my vagina waxed, it doesn’t hurt,” Khloé says before punching Rob in the throat. When he leaves for his date, she reminds him to “Wrap it up, angel” and then punches him in the dick.

That’s like, textbook sibling jealousy, right? There’s something sexually threatening to Khloé about her brother dating a Playboy playmate? I don’t want to think about it, either, but but here are. I hold this idea out to you as though with tweezers. Put it in the petri dish or throw it on the Bunsen burner, your choice.

The sisters crash Rob’s date, presumably to create some drama by potentially ruining it. But the date is already doomed, by the nature of it involving Rob Kardashian and a former Playmate. There’s no drama to be created, no sparks to be ignited. Maybe if Khloé had “accidentally” set Rob’s date on fire, my pulse would have risen above 80 bpm.

Meanwhile in B-plot land, the producers of the show have lured slash paid a homeless man to hang around in front of Dash. The sisters drive past him every day and comment on him but refuse to take the bait and interact with him. The frustrated producers then bring the man behind the store and have him sit by the dumpster just as Khloé’s about to take out the trash.

Khloé meets the homeless man and feels bad for him. His name is Shorty (“Oh, that’s like my name,” says Kourtney, which NO, IT IS NOT AT ALL, WHO THINKS LIKE THAT).

I spent most of this segment wondering where the producers found Shorty, what he got or signed away for appearing on the show, whatever happened to him, very normal stuff. While I was worrying about this, Khloé took him home, got him showered and dressed in Bruce’s clothes, bought him a new set of dentures, and dropped him off at the shelter. And thank God that’s over because this whole thing was completely fucked. The idea of a family as wealthy as the Kardashians expending all this time, money, and energy to “fix” one homeless person when their resources could be used much more effectively to help so many more people, is just, ugh. Seacrest is promoting a Republican agenda here, and I want it out of my face.

And! Also! There’s an odd little scene at the end where Kris and Rob free a bird that became trapped in their kitchen (Did it walk on Rob’s pillow?), and it’s totally random, but it’s infinitely more emotionally engaging than the entire show that preceded it.

Episode eight (“The Price of Fame”) is the season finale, and it is a doozy, my friends. Just kidding, it’s a bunch of scenes slapped together with a quick ending. We’re way too far down this road to start course-correcting now.

Kim is upset about rumors and misinformation about whom she is or isn’t dating. She reads a gossip website that lists her dating six people she is not in fact dating. “I want to go in here and write to them,” she says, “I can’t believe they have this as if it’s fact.”

Someone is wrong on the internet, she fumes at her computer screen, and her sisters have to literally drag her away from the desk. There has been unforgivably little Kim in these past few episodes, but now here she is, being perfect and incredibly relatable, IMO.

Next we get some cross-promotional goodness as Ry-Ry Seacrest inserts himself into the show. Kim appears on his program to clear up the rumors.

Ryan is seated behind his microphone for this entire scene, which I found very disappointing because I was super curious to see what Kim, Kourtney, and Ryan would look like standing next to each other. The internet SAYS he’s five-foot-eight but I simply do not believe it.

Kim’s hair looked amazing in this scene, incidentally.

For the final act, we learn that someone is trying to sell nude photos of Kourtney. These are pictures she took with her boyfriend when they were in high school. Kim stole the photos from Kourtney and then lost them. Now they’ve resurfaced and she feels guilty.

Kim learns this news while she’s driving. She takes the call on her Sidekick slider phone. The original iPhone had just come out a few months earlier, so props to Kim for keeping it real.

Kim is distraught and does a lot of crying in this episode, although it is NOT ugly crying, AT ALL. It is incredibly beautiful crying. She tells her mom and sisters, they loop in the FBI (who, oddly, come to the Kardashian house. On every other show, isn’t this the kind of thing someone has to “come downtown” for?). And then, once the FBI is clued in, the women realize that they need to tell Bruce.

At this point, in a moment of unbridled joy and beauty, balloons and confetti stream down from the rafters because somehow, in a brief eight-episode season of half-hour episodes, this is the one-millionth time they’ve deployed the Oh, No, We Have to Tell Bruce segment. Call it Stockholm syndrome if you will, but I have grown to love the We Need to Tell Bruce scenes and wish other shows would begin using them. Tavis Smiley only got 7s for his foxtrot on Dancing With the Stars — but who’s going to tell Bruce? The Daleks have kidnapped Clara and the Doctor may be able to rescue her, but first he’ll have to make a terrible choice about whether or not to tell Bruce.

The FBI fixes everything. If this was even a real problem? Not some kind of weird fakey recreation? I trust almost nothing about this show at this point, aside from Kim’s eternal, transcendent beauty.

Aaaand, that’s the end! “Fame has its advantages, and it definitely has its disadvantages,” Kim says, by way of summary. What she means is that fame is great, because you get to star on a TV show. But you may have to share screentime with your less interesting family so they don’t get too jealous of you. I think that’s what she means, anyway. Honestly, as long as Kim is saying the words, I don’t particularly care which ones she’s using.

Important quotes:

  • Kourtney, describing Khloé with her boyfriends: “She chains them down to the bed and like dances all over them with an ax, to chop their dicks off.” Right??? Nailed it.
  • It wasn’t until the final episode that the existential horror of Rob’s “I need someone to make me laugh” in the opening credits really dawned on me.
  • The scene with Kourtney, slumpty on the couch, trying to muster up the energy to go to the kitchen for “a little snack-a-roo” is hands-down the most relatable and empathetic five seconds of the entire season.

Revisiting Season 1 of The Kardashians, Part 2