Review by Brian Lowry, CNN
The Kardashians are back, not that they were ever really gone. Sure, their flagship E! show might have ended, but that was merely so the family could hang out a “We’ve Moved” sign and shift their under-the-microscope lives over to Hulu. Not surprisingly, the act hasn’t changed, just the location.
“The Kardashians,” as the new show is called, is still keeping up with everyone, opening with a zooming series of shots of their various mansions. As for the thrust of the drama, the main prongs out of the gate involve Kourtney’s relationship with drummer Travis Barker and the excitement surrounding Kim hosting “Saturday Night Live” in October, which nicely sets up the time frame.
As always, the Kardashians’ lives don’t unfold with a great sense of urgency, devoting the first two episodes to the preparations for Kim’s “SNL” stint, while eliciting fairly obvious exchanges like her marveling, “This will be live. Live.”
The most interesting moment comes when Kim meets with Amy Schumer (who has experience with the genre), with the comic dissecting her monologue material in advance and second-guessing several of the jokes. It’s a window not only into the comedic process but Kardashian’s understanding of her brand and how to present herself.
There is also a subplot involving Kim’s concern about the potential release of more footage from a years-old sex tape, although that wrinkle makes this seem a bit more like a reboot than anything else. Any crisis is a source of drama, perhaps, but this feels like playing the oldies, a cut off the greatest hits collection.
Obviously, the Kardashians have built their personal lives into a lucrative cottage industry, which includes turning everyone — exes, kids, you name it — into part of the ensemble. That can create some awkward and even queasy moments, but at this point, nobody in their extended orbit can plead ignorance about the rules of the game.
What remains striking is that the Kardashians frequently talk about the demands on their time and lack of privacy as if it isn’t or wasn’t a choice, implying that they are bystanders in this three-ring circus as opposed to its ringmasters. Indeed, one of the most honest moments comes when Kim says, “I hate talking about myself, but…,” ending the thought amid off-camera laughter.
Kim Kardashian recently made headlines for chiding women regarding their work ethic, but say this for the family: Whatever one thinks of their product, they’re certainly relentless in selling it.
In that sense, the Kardashians’ fundamental relationship is with fans (or simply curious gawkers) who follow their exploits — a bond that explains why Hulu would be eager to add the show to its streaming arsenal. Because the family doesn’t know how to quit us, apparently, any better than a lot of us know how to quit them.
“The Kardashians” premieres April 14 on Hulu.
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