When the Kardashians first hit our TV screens in October of 2007, the show promised a celebrity family with all too familiar familial drama and shenanigans — we saw fights between sisters, family vacations gone awry and the natural ebb and flow between love and distance, a show which mirrored the modern American familial experience only with a few extra millions.
But as the curtain falls on this almost 15-year-old production, Sunday’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians reunion, hosted by pop culture interviewer Andy Cohen, revealed an intimate portrait of what life was like behind the scenes of the Kardashian family. Cohen, the 53-year-old Bravo talk show host and bona fide twenty-first century cornerstone of pop culture, promised an exposé on the family where “nothing was off limits.”
As the camera panned in on the reunion, immediately the question of seating arrangement pops into the equation. For the tenure of the show, a hierarchy has always existed in the Kardashian family. There has always been an air of “who’s the one running things behind the scenes?” In real time, we see Kim Kardashian, 40, immediately to Cohen’s right, solidifying the role she has always taken as the person who not only seeks the center of attention, but demands it.
Kim, the mother of four, revealed to Cohen that she used to actively seek out members of the paparazzi and media in the early days of the show in order to garner attention when out and about. While she isn’t ashamed of this necessarily, she uses this period of her life to personify the type of desperation for attention that can come with fame.
“I knew exactly where [the photographers] were,” Kim said. “Anytime I would get hair and makeup for the show, there was no way I was going home and washing it off. I would stop off at Robertson. I would stop off at The Ivy to pick up something to go, even if it was some bread to go, an empty bag. I would go in and pretend, ‘Did I leave my glasses here?'”
But behind every pawn in the Kardashian game of chess, there is a person purposefully and strategically moving pieces in order to obtain glory. On Cohen’s immediate left sat 65-year-old Kardashian-Jenner family matriarch and momager-manager Kris Jenner. It has long been hypothesized that Kris has been the figure pulling the strings behind the family’s boom in media attention, with some saying she was the person who leaked the 2007 Kim and Ray J sex tape.
This seating arrangement poses Kris and Kim as equals and adversaries in their relation to the show’s fame and success, they represent the show’s dichotomy of cool, calculated strategy juxtaposed with publicity stunts that bring controversy with every move. But as the old adage goes, any publicity is good publicity in show business.
The most interesting dynamic in this seating arrangement however was not only in hierarchal order, but whom sat next to whom. On one couch sat Kim, Kourtney and Kylie Jenner, on the other sat Kris, Khloé and Kylie Jenner. This strikes as odd, you would think that the three sisters, Kim, Kourtney and Khloé would be seated all on the same couch as they are the ones who defined the show’s theme of sisterly love in all of its difficulties, whereas the Jenner sisters have always been outliers, choosing to pursue their own flavor of career over the show.
In a family as calculated as the Kardashians, there is no such thing as a coincidence. The gap physically separating Khloé from Kim and Kourtney is jarring. There has always been tension on the show, but could this separation be intentional as to speak on the growing divide between bonds? As of recently, there was already friction between Kourtney and Kim over a childcare dispute, but is that just a symptom of larger and more concerning tensions in the sisters’ relationship?
One factor in this separation could be due to the fact that Khloé brought up the topic of always feeling singled out from her sisters in the progression of the show. She discussed how Kim and Kourtney were always seen as the more attractive of the three, and that Khloé was singled out because of swirling rumors that they do not share the same father, with desperate media speculation that O.J. Simpson is Khloé’s biological father.
Concerning Khloé, 36, Cohen probed about the developing and conflicting relationship she has with Tristan Thompson, the 30-year-old basketball player and father of her 3-year-old child, True. In 2018, it came out on KUWTK the Thompson cheated on Khloé right before the birth of their daughter, and in 2019 there were allegations that Thompson had sexual relations with friend of Kylie Jenner Jordyn Woods, 23-year-old model and socialite.
Khloé, when asked by Cohen about the relationship with Thompson, said that she chose to not direct her anger at the father of her child. Rather, she wanted to make the moment about her daughter True. “I knew, ok, my daughter is going to want to see her birth video one day I would hope and I wanted to think about True at that moment and say ‘This is not about me, we’re going to handle this on our own later this should not ever effect my child,'” she said. “I wanted to have these memories, to have these moments for her.”
In fact, in an instagram post, Khloé and Thompson seemingly spent father’s day together with their children. The couple is reportedly “going strong” after getting back together amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Khloé went as far as saying that Thompson “is her best friend” back in March.
On the allegations surrounding the relations between Thompson and Jordyn Woods, Khloé affirmed that she has forgiven Woods, “just as I have forgiven Thompson.” These are allegations that Woods continues to deny, as Khloé and Kylie Jenner state that they no longer continue a relationship with her.
Family can be difficult. As confusing and intricate as the interpersonal lives of the Kardashians’ may seem, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the truth for all families. They fight, they make up and come back stronger in the interim. However, it does seem important to ask if the weight of stardom is worth the potential feuds between people you love. With KUWTK coming to a close, it will be interesting to watch how the Kardashian dynamic moves from here — will the family mend as the show ends, or will it cause a further distance sparked by a much-needed break from one another?