The Dumbest Scandal of 2019 Is the Kardashians vs. Jordyn Woods
There were a lot of silly “scandals” this year…but this one takes the cake.
There is no justifiable reason for anyone to still be talking about the feud between Khloé Kardashian and Jordyn Woods, but, alas, here I am, bringing it up once again in light of the recent news that Woods took a lie detector test to prove she didn’t sleep with Khloé’s ex, Tristan Thompson. With this latest development in the twisted love triangle, the Khloé/Jordyn/Tristan cheating saga has officially become the most ridiculous celebrity “scandal” of 2019.
Last week, Woods appeared on Red Table Talk, apparently the only platform still willing to devote airtime to the months-old allegations that Khloé’s baby daddy (Thompson) cheated with Kylie Jenner’s former BFF (Woods). Jada Pinkett Smith hooked the 22-year-old model up to a polygraph machine in an effort to get to the bottom of the year’s most needlessly discussed drama.
In a moment of tension to rival the Clinton impeachment hearings, Woods sits stony-faced, her hair pulled back in a sleek-high ponytail, while the test administrator asks, “Did you have sexual intercourse with Tristan Thompson?” The verdict? A vocal-fry-inflected: “No.” The clip from the show notes that the entire polygraph test took two hours, though it is unclear what else they needed to ask her given that her only claim to fame before TMZ broke the news of her fling with Thompson was being Stormi Webster’s unpaid babysitter.
The illicit relationship first made headlines in February, a mere 10 months ago (though it feels like an eternity). After weeks of unconfirmed buzz that Khloé and Thompson had broken up, TMZ reported that on a trip to Los Angeles to spend Valentine’s Day with Kardashian and their 1-year-old daughter True, Thompson got cozy with Woods at a house party. Sources told TMZ that they were making out and Woods was seen leaving Thompson’s house the next morning.
Though the Cavaliers forward was already known to be an adulterous dirtbag (he cheated on Khloé days before she gave birth to their daughter), the new allegations were a big deal in the KarJenner world due to Woods’ status as Kylie’s closest friend/most dependable Instagram prop. Further complicating matters, she was readily reaping the rewards of being friends with the youngest “self-made” billionaire, living in Kylie’s sprawling estate rent-free and making money as a spokesperson for Khloé’s Good American denim line.
Within a day, all of the sisters except for Kylie unfollowed Woods and Thompson on social media. Khloé vented, as one does in 2019, by publishing a series of cryptic Instagram stories about betrayal. They severed professional ties with “Jordy,” scrubbing her page from the Good American site and, in an act of seemingly petty solidarity later described as a mistake, Woods’ namesake Kylie Cosmetics lip kit was marked down.
Woods was the first to confirm the rumors. On March 1, she appeared on Red Table Talk, where she was introduced as a lifelong family friend of the Smiths. She explained that she and Thompson did kiss, but nothing more, and that she was at an after party at his house until early the next morning. “I was honest about being there, but I wasn’t honest about the actions that had taken place,” Woods said. “I’m no homewrecker. I would never try to hurt someone’s home. Especially someone that I love.”
While the saga could have (and should have) ended there, the ever-entrepreneurial Kardashians were not about to squander the entertainment value of Jordyn’s betrayal. For reality TV’s first family, no emotional trauma is too raw to exploit for ratings. The drama played out all over again this summer, when Keeping Up with the Kardashians aired a two-part finale devoted to the scandal, lending merit to the half-joking suggestion that the entire thing was orchestrated by money-minded momager Kris Jenner. In one of the episodes, Kylie dramatically says, “[Woods] was just like, you know, crying the whole time, and I was just telling her, ‘I’m scared of you now, that you’re capable of waking up the next morning with a smile on your face.’”
The competition for biggest celebrity scandal was stiff this year, between Operation Varsity Blues, the battle over Taylor Swift’s masters, and Scarlett Johansson’s relentless defense of Woody Allen. Even just within the Kardashian-Jenner family, there was Kylie’s aforementioned “self-made billionaire” Forbes cover, Kanye’s Sunday Service—essentially a for-profit charade—and Kim’s poorly named “Kimono” shapewear line that incited cries of cultural appropriation. But the Jordyn Woods/Tristan Thompson cheating controversy was by far the most absurd, and for a number of reasons.
First, at the risk of peddling conspiracy theories, all Kardashian family drama (or really any celebrity drama that can be milked for profit, clicks and views) should be taken with a heavy dose of cynicism. This is a family who has built an empire on supposed transparency, yet it is tacitly understood by viewers that very little of reality TV actually is real. Confrontations are often scripted or recreated (a column from The Cut documents these discrepancies, pointing out that one episode in which Kim hijacks Kris’ Christmas Eve party was filmed in January, weeks after the party occurred).
The idea that cameras are constantly following them around, capturing every moment whether they like it or not, is also likely not the case. It is difficult to buy KUTWK as a totally-unfiltered look at the family’s lives when one of them was able to completely hide her pregnancy for nine months. The nature of the Kardashians’ celebrity is another factor. If you’re famous for being famous, it is wise to constantly generate new reasons to stay in the headlines. (This is admittedly less of an issue now that their popularity has reached such untouchable heights that they make the news simply for cosplaying as each other.)
General Kardashian cynicism aside, though, it is also important to note the ugly way the rumors were twisted to launch a full-scale attack on Woods, who previously enjoyed relative anonymity outside of KarJenner circles. Thompson escaped much of the public backlash, with the brunt of the outrage directed at “the other woman,” then-21-year-old Woods.
After Woods’ initial appearance on Red Table Talk, Khloé directly tweeted, “Why are you lying @jordynwoods ?? If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, you ARE the reason my family broke up!” There are a lot of things wrong with Khloé’s public reaming of Woods, from her ironic disregard of her own advice to settle things privately on the phone to the fact that she seems to absolve Thompson, known cheater and equal participant in the alleged affair, of any blame. (She later clarified that she also blames Thompson, but his role as her daughter’s father comes first.)
Then there’s the messy punching-down element, given the incomparable combined social media influence of the Kardashians. Khloé’s followers alone far outnumber Woods’, with 101 million on Instagram and 27.6 million on Twitter vs. Woods’ 10.9 million and 750,000, respectively. Taking into consideration the rest of the family’s equally staggering follower counts, the intensity of the online wrath Woods must have endured is frankly unfathomable.
And yet, she clearly does not seem to know what is good for her, based on her continued insistence on discussing the scandal, 10 months later, with Jada Pinkett Smith. So please, let’s all do Jordyn Woods a favor by leaving this exhausted drama and its harmful reinforcement of the sexist homewrecker narrative in 2019 where it belongs.