The second part of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reunion special, which aired on Sunday night, ended in classic Kardashian fashion—with a blatant, unabashed product plug. After two hours of not particularly revelatory interviews (the first hour aired on Thursday), host and Bravo star Andy Cohen suggested the group take a shot of Kendall Jenner’s new 818 Tequila.
A round of the award-winning liquor was poured and the reality-TV vets feigned some convincing oohs and ahs. “Is that not the smoothest tequila or what?” gushed Kris, ever the devoted momager. “Wow, that’s really good,” confirmed Andy. It was a fittingly cringe-worthy end to the fame-obsessed family’s 14-year television reign.
The two-part special followed a similar format to the Real Housewives reunions on Bravo, with the KarJenner brood sitting uneasily around their host on plush sofas, all glammed up in evening gowns. The set was essentially a huge, velvety shrine to the sisters, decorated with magazine covers and iconic red carpet looks from over the years.
Some early highlights included Kim giving former boss Paris Hilton credit for launching her career (you know, before the sex tape made her a household name) and speaking candidly about how rabid she was in her pursuit of fame. She even admitted to showing up at places where she knew the paparazzi would be just so that she would be photographed, going so far as to take trips to celeb hotspot The Ivy and ordering bread to go. “I think people need to be honest about that time in your life when you’re just so desperate,” she said, somewhat endearingly.
By far the most interesting and vulnerable moments of the show, though, were when Andy was questioning Khloe. The Good American founder got the bulk of the attention after the family’s undeniable star, Kim. At one point, she opened up about how misogynistic and fatphobic criticism hurled at her during the show’s first few seasons completely destroyed her confidence.
Khloe explained that she was not lacking in self-confidence before the show started, but as soon as it aired, the negative comments poured in. “That’s when all that narrative of fugly or all these crazy things that I wasn’t even aware of about myself, that’s when I started to be hard on myself because I was like, ‘Oh, that’s how other people perceive me,’” she told Andy. She also shared that Kim and Kourtney were given preferential treatment because of the way they look, and that on photoshoots she was always relegated to the background and given the least wardrobe choices.
Of course, Khloe’s candor about her struggles with body image is complicated by the fact that the sisters are constantly editing their social media photos beyond recognition, being shady about the cosmetic procedures they’ve undergone, and hawking dangerous weight-loss teas. Needless to say, they are not exactly body-positive icons. When Andy asked them if they feel that they’re promoting unattainable standards of beauty, their responses were disappointing.
“No, I don’t, because I think we get up, we do the work, we work out,” Kim quickly said. “We all love taking care of ourselves and being healthy,” Kendall agreed, rounding out the egregious oversimplification of the money, genetics, and Instagram filters that go into how they look the way they do. Khloe, consistently the most open of the clan, acknowledged that she has had a nose job, filler, and Botox, while the other ladies kept their lips sealed.
It was a running theme throughout the special that Andy did not really challenge the women or push back on their responses despite advertising at the beginning of the first hour that he was given “no ground rules.” It was a surprising departure from the way he runs Real Housewives reunions over on his network, and perhaps he was working with difficult time constraints. But the omission of questions about their rap sheet of cultural appropriation and brazen disregard for COVID-19 safety was definitely an oversight.
It would be unfair to say that the special didn’t cover personal topics. Andy probed them about their many marriages and divorces, their children, and the Jordyn Woods/Tristan Thompson cheating scandal. Kim offered genuinely emotional well wishes to Kanye in the wake of their split and regretfully admitted that she wanted to have only been married once.
However, longtime viewers have come to expect and are desensitized to these kinds of glimpses into their personal lives; it was the entire model of their show. In fact, much of what was discussed during the two hours had already been covered in some way or another on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Ultimately, it would have been far more interesting to hear them meaningfully reflect on their less forgivable mistakes than flex their media training with polished statements about how much they loved being on a TV show together.