Why 'The Kardashians' Sucked Me in This Time

The famous family has a new reality show premiering on Hulu. I'm finally tuning in.

Kim Kardashian at the kardashians premeire
Kim K. at 'The Kardashians' premiere. | Hulu
Kim K. at 'The Kardashians' premiere. | Hulu

I have never watched a full episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Sure, maybe I saw the E! series a couple times on silent while on an elliptical at the gym. And I’m aware of all the memes: the cry face, “Kim, there’s people that are dying,” “you’re doing amazing sweetie.” Yet—even though I'm not really a reality TV person, having avoided the lifestyles of the rich and famous programming on basic cable all these years—suddenly I found myself compelled to watch the family’s new series on Hulu, simply titled The Kardashians, which drops episodes weekly on Thursdays. Blame it on Pete Davidson. Well, not entirely, but let me explain.

I’ve never really had the easy disdain for the Kardashian family that is so easy to come by. They are easy to root against with their immense privilege that leads them to say things like: “I have the best advice for women in business. Get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.” At the same time, you sort of have to respect their hustle, elevating themselves into global superstars based on the sheer inescapability of their brand and its various offshoots.

Until recently, I always viewed them from a distance, but in the last couple of months their ubiquity has become newly inescapable. Kourtney and Travis Barker have been publicly making out at every possible moment as the blink-182 drummer leads a pop punk revival across music, and shows up at the Oscars to accompany Reba McEntire and others. Meanwhile, following her stint on Saturday Night Live in October, Kim started dating Pete Davidson, the country’s improbably biggest heartthrob, while navigating her divorce from Kanye West, whose behavior has become increasingly erratic.

kardashians travis and kourtney

Maybe it’s sheer voyeurism on my part, but I just needed to see how the series was going to address all of this. Or maybe I just needed to understand the weird hold that Pete Davidson seemingly has over every famous woman who comes across his path. Whatever it was, I was watching.

The thing is: The Kardashians knows that people like me are tuning in, in addition to the fans who stuck with KUWTK for 20 seasons before it ended in the summer of 2021. But Kris and her brigade have chosen to lightly torture us. The show is going to take its sweet time getting to the gossip and you are going to bear with it.

The first two episodes are centered on the lead-up to Kim’s appearance on SNL. That means Pete details are imminent, and the producers will tease his coming. The season opens with the whole family—minus Kendall who has COVID; and Scott Disick, who was not invited—at Kim’s for a barbecue where she reveals she’s agreed to host a viewing party of the sketch program, despite her nerves. The gathering also establishes another B-plot when Kim and Kanye’s son Saint comes across an ad while playing Roblox that seems to indicate a leak of new footage from Kim’s infamous sex tape. It’s all a bit of a red herring because, as the viewer knows, that will not be one of the biggest Kardashian news stories incoming.

It’s easy to get sucked into the comforting monotony of the family's vocal fry as they fret about first-world problems, donning perfectly contoured faces, that both seem so beyond the realm of possibility for most humans. At the same time, The Kardashians is, frankly, pretty boring. The concept of the Kardashians might be inherently interesting, but that doesn’t mean watching their show is.

There’s something admirable about their attempts to avoid the expected tabloid stories, sticking to their own narrative to prove that their lives are colored by familiar, even mundane drama. At the same time, I just want to know how Kim and Pete fell in love. Maybe I’ll finally keep up to find out.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.