Despite having a wealth of material that should have made it essential viewing—from Kim’s Paris robbery, to Kourtney’s rumored love life, to Caitlyn’s memoir—the March season premiere of Keeping Up With the Kardashians was the show’s least-watched since 2008. Maybe the family has, after almost 10 years on the air, finally overstayed its welcome. Or maybe, thanks to 24/7 media coverage of their lives, we’re already fully kaught up with them. Or maybe it’s a little of both, combined with the fact that the show’s most recent drama is some of its most poorly manufactured ever.
Sunday’s episode was filled with continued angry chatter among Kris, Kendall, and Kim about the “so not true” things Caitlyn wrote about Kris in her memoir. Now, this suggestion that Caitlyn ruthlessly vilified Kris in her memoir is a story the family has been trying to push for some time, but as someone who read that snore the morning of its release, I’m not biting. Jenner gave her memoir the thrilling, tabloid-ready title The Secrets of My Life, but no part of it feels cathartic—like she’s unloading a burden or sharing a story she never felt she could before. Instead it’s merely sad and dull—not a great combination for a celebrity memoir.
Though she for many years made a living as a motivational speaker, Caitlyn comes off as an unwilling party in her memoir, and while reading it last month I alternated from being bored by her personal history, annoyed by her frequently ignorant behavior, and sad that such a private person felt obligated to publish a memoir at all. The harshest thing she has to say about anyone is O.J. Simpson (she thinks he did it). Everyone else—Kris included—is written about through the lens of her own guilt and sadness, which is why her family’s commentary on Sunday’s KUWTK was particularly baffling.
When talking about a part in the book when Caitlyn discusses her financial situation, Kim complains that it characterizes Kris as “hoarding” all of Caitlyn’s money. “I do feel like there’s a way to tell your side of the story without being so negative,” she says. “Like, everything is always your [Kris’s] fault...I think what she doesn’t realize, when she says you [Kris] got all the checks...yeah, it was a household!”
“Absolutely,” Kris responds.
But take a look at the passage in question, which was easy for me to find because I highlighted in on my Kindle after thinking, “Wow, even Caitlyn’s attempted burns of Kris end up being sad, respectful, self-owns” (bold mine):
From a deeply personal standpoint, Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a demarcation for Kris and me. I believe that the more successful it becomes, the less she needs me. I am not the primary breadwinner anymore. I feel increasingly irrelevant. I receive a healthy paycheck for doing the show, and I continue to do speeches, but I never see a dime of it: it all goes right to Kris. Plus, what I make is nothing compared to the kids because of all their other ventures. Kris, in addition to being the show’s executive producer, also takes a 10 percent cut from the Kardashian kids as the so-called Momager (she trademarked the title in 2015).
I do not have a checking account. I have a credit card, but purchases are carefully pored over. Kris is incredibly generous—on her own terms. She buys me a Porsche after I express interest in getting one but know I can’t (she does put the title in her name). She buys me a membership to the exclusive Sherwood for somewhere around $200,000 so I can play golf. They are amazing gestures, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me not to make any financial decisions on my own.
Actually, I can’t make any.
Like so much of her book, there is a dreariness enveloping this entire passage that makes it almost impossible for me to read it as an insult to anyone. Kris gets Caitlyn’s checks because she is her manager, and being a speaker (Caitlyn’s additional source of income) was Kris’s idea to begin with. This isn’t a swipe at Kris, it’s a series of facts Caitlyn is clearly ashamed to admit. After spending so much of her life dealing with the private burden of her gender dysphoria, she was more than willing to let other people (like Kris) take on all the other ones—like her career and finances—and now she’s finding in the shitty position of wanting to be truly independent (and truly herself) for the first time in her life, while inextricably tied to ghosts from a former life.
Caitlyn (who claims she told Kris about her gender identity very early on) all but deifies Kris in earlier passages of the book, and says Kris “resuscitated” her career in the ’90s. Here she is on their wedding photos:
Sometimes pictures lie, particularly wedding pictures. But this one does not. It was magical. It was a miracle. It was truly perfect, or as perfect as anything can be in life. There was no family fame then and no fortune. There was just us.
And here she is on the first half of their marriage:
Kris and I and all the kids are truly one big happy family in the early 1990s. It is a profound moment of my life, the most profound moment. I am a father, a real father, not a pretend one or a preoccupied one or a selfish one, no matter how well meaning. Kris has welcomed Burt and Casey and Brandon and Brody into our lives with loving and gracious arms.
Like so many of KUWTK’s decade of storylines, I just don’t buy the anger here. No family understands synergy as well as the Kardashians, and despite Kim’s claims that there’s is only a “two percent” chance Kris and Caitlyn will ever speak again, this reads as an attempt to drum up sales for the book, as well as views of the show. But based on their ever-decreasing ratings (and the book’s reportedly disappointing sales), it’s not going to work.