‘The Kardashians’ Review: New Show, Same Escape Fun | Arts
What do Roblox, Travis Barker, Fountain’s Diet Coke and “Saturday Night Live” have in common? These are the pressing topics at the heart of the first episode of “The Kardashians,” Hulu’s new show centered on America’s unofficial first family. While the Kardashians may have saved 20 seasons of their previous reality show on E!, this new streaming series offers the opportunity for an even more honest and raw look at the Californian clan. However, it’s far more likely that the impetus to switch platforms was a bigger payday for the business-savvy family and not a concern for the show’s creative integrity.
Does the show live up to its promises and offer a whole new viewing experience? No – but “The Kardashians” stays true to its reliable format in a way that doesn’t feel tired. Instead, the show provides a much-needed dose of slightly ridiculous, completely unrelated, and genuinely fun escapist television.
The premiere opens with a dizzying drone shot showcasing the show’s key cast (as if the audience needed a refresher) before launching into one of Kardashian’s classic, over-the-top family celebrations that don’t celebrate. nothing in particular. Kourtney’s relationship with her new boyfriend Travis Barker is on full display at the party, with the couple engaging in strong displays of affection in public. The premiere’s focus on this relationship (which fans know will eventually lead to an engagement) may seem uncomfortably gratuitous, but Kourtney’s giddyness makes it hard not to root for her.
Even casual followers of the Kardashian universe may be wondering: How does Kourtney’s ex-boyfriend, Scott Disick, feel about her new relationship? Fortunately, the show quickly provides answers: a scene shows a conversation between Scott and Khloé where he pretends to be happy for Kourtney while complaining about being excluded from the family barbecue. Although Scott readily admits how he wronged Kourtney during their relationship, his complaints point to a frustrating lack of self-awareness. But sometimes those feelings of bewilderment are what make the show so compelling.
Khloé’s relationship with NBA player Tristan Thompson is also on full display in this episode, with candid discussions of their romantic split resulting from Thompson’s prior infidelity. The couple’s conversations about rebuilding trust remind viewers of one of the show’s intractable flaws: All of the events we see onscreen took place months before the episode’s airdate. Due to this delay, viewers already know that Thompson admitted to having fathering a son with personal trainer Maralee Nichols while being in a relationship with Khloé. This knowledge imbues the couple’s optimistic discussions about the future with a rather tragic tone.
Fortunately, the series stays true to its strengths at the end of the episode by allowing viewers to participate in classic low-stakes drama. Kim worries that there may be an unreleased part of her old sex tape about to be released (on Roblox of all places) and she recruits the whole family to save the day. Seeing how the Kardashians handle their somewhat wacky daily drama is what keeps this franchise standing the test of time, and this moment is nothing short of a meme-worthy mastery. Can Kim stop this anonymous hacker before time runs out? Find out next week on “The Kardashians!”
And finally: Will Kim really get away with dismissively referring to Debra Messing as “the daughter of ‘Will and Grace’?”