This latest season of The Kardashians felt like we were watching two different shows. On one show, Kholé is navigating through the Tristan Thompson saga which is layered with trauma. Meanwhile, on the other show, Kim is rebranding herself as Kim the Harvard Approved Business Mogul, Kim the Soccer Mom, and Kim the Serious Actress.
Each show shares the ensemble cast. On Kholé’s show, they range from being helpful and supportive to trying to convince her (and the viewers) to not only forgive Tristan for his transgressions but to overlook them for the sake of harmony. On Kim’s show, they fill just enough screen time to earn their paycheque.
Faced with these two polar opposite storylines, the producers’ attempts to blend them into one season, let alone individual episodes, is unsuccessful. It creates an awkward dynamic, especially for Kholé. This becomes evident in Episode 5 during an egregiously produced lunch reminiscent of The Truman Show. Only, instead of Jim Carrey and Noah Emmerich, it’s Kholé and Malika. There were even some background characters pretending to enjoy lunch. My personal favourite duo were seated behind Kholé, who at one point avoided eye contact by simply staring off into space, all while making sure their gazes avoided the cameras.
After Kholé expressed numerous times that she is focusing on herself and isn’t thinking about Tristan in a romantic way, “so, it’s not never” left Malika’s mouth. By the end of the lunch, Kholé wasn’t the only one who was glossy-eyed and sighing. Other viewers felt the same – it was too soon for the Tristan redemption arc.
When Kourtney shows up as the voice of reason in the next episode, expressing, “I feel like we all, like, brush it off and are fine…Tristan has made horrible decisions and choices, ya know, with my sister.” It feels as though she has been watching the edits and is pulling back the curtain to reveal the Wizard’s grand illusion. Sweeping things under the rug for the sake of harmony is not the same as moving on.
Even with compassion for their current situation, each conversation along The Tristan Apology Tour feels rushed. The conversations with Kylie and Kourtney over Episodes 8 and 9 feel incomplete. Kylie was not only quicker to move on but was also much softer on Tristan, while Kourtney did not hold back in what felt comparable to a therapy session. After these conversations, the next and last time we see Tristan is in the season finale. During Kholé’s end narration, she talks about how she will do anything for her kids as she, Tristan, Dream, True and Tatum dance and play around her kitchen.
Kholé’s storyline was not only more engrossing, but far more relatable than what filled the remainder of the season. In the premiere, Kim sets her intention “to just say no to more things, slow down work-wise a little bit, and just be more present.” Yet this season, Kim goes to Boston, Milan, Miami, London, Paris, Japan, New York, Las Vegas, and various places in California. Kim is not the only one exhausted from her work schedule. Viewers can only watch a show about someone going to work for so long. It doesn’t matter how exciting the career might be – there is a limit and many viewers may reach their’s this season.
Knowing the viewers need to see Kim in more than just work mode (does she know any other mode?), the show made sure to incorporate her children. North West got the most screen time as she soft-launched her status as fashion icon, chef, and the next Joan Rivers. Saint West was featured on Kim’s Best Soccer Mom Trip to England and France. However, while in France, Kim did take one work meeting with her intended date to the MET Gala, Choupette, Karl Lagerfeld’s cat. Similar to this season, it was not a success.
Aside from some memorable moments, like Kholé’s fear of whales – which seems more like an SNL sketch – learning that Kris found out about Kourtney’s pregnancy announcement at the Los Angeles Blink-182 concert on CNN, and finding out Brian Grazer wants to make a documentary about Kris (anyone else hoping Ron Howard agrees to narrate??), the rest of the season was full of filler and sales pitches.
Some segments felt rushed or forced and, in some instances, both, like Kris’ scenes with Scott Disick. Whether it was inquiring about his back injury only to pry into his dating life as she and Kholé decided to play matchmaker, or not waiting twenty minutes for him to finish a procedure with his back, Kris appeared to get through her scenes with Scott in the quickest ways possible.
Along with Lemme and Good American, Proto was given some solid marketing screen time. Confronting her mother at the end of Episode 6, Kholé expresses her dissatisfaction with Kris as a manager. She complains that Kris is too busy and never around when required. Left unresolved, a solution magically presents itself within the first five minutes of the following episode. Spoiler – it’s not in the form of a healthy discussion about potentially changing managers or creating a better workflow, but in the form of a holographic machine.
Kathy and Paris Hilton, who are no strangers to reality television, gave fairly wooden performances when talking about the holograms. Inspired by this conversation, Kris meets up with Howie Mandel, who apparently is her go-to-guy for holograms. After his sales presentation, Kris agrees to have the Proto machines set up in various rooms around Kholé’s house in hopes she forgives her for not being there for her as her manager. As more than ten of the forty-eight minutes in this episode were dedicated to Proto, it should come as no surprise that both Paris and Howie are investors. Wouldn’t be shocked if Kris was as well.
Maybe it was the move to Disney, who built an empire on make-believe, that propelled the producers to weave elements into this season that are nothing short of fairy tales. Where else other than the Magic Streaming Kingdom would a show attempt a far-too-soon redemption arc for Tristan and yet another rebranding of Kim Kardashian, all while sprinkling sales pitches like they’re fairy dust?
All episodes of The Kardashians Season 4 are now streaming on Disney+.