If there’s one thing the Kardashians have become known for over the decades that they’ve been in the spotlight, it’s drama.
It goes without saying that the sisters have gained quite the reputation for the scandals they’ve displayed on their former E! reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
From literal physicalfights between the sisters to all sorts of messy storylines including cheating scandals and divorces, Keeping Up provided viewers with the ugly moments of the sisters’ lives as well as the pretty ones.
But fans have noticed a considerable shift in the amount of drama featured in their newer Hulu series, The Kardashians, which first aired back in April — ten months after the last episode of KUWTK aired.
The first season, which came to an end in June, hardly tapped into the array of dramatic storylines that the sisters had been living through.
For example, there was no mention whatsoever of the Astroworld tragedy, which saw 10 people die and hundreds others injured at a festival headlined and organized by Travis Scott, who is Kylie Jenner’s boyfriend. Both Travis and Kylie’s responses to the event sparked huge controversy after people deemed their minimal statements “insincere” and “disrespectful.”
And yet, the show made no reference to the concert at all, with the sisters even being accused of faking an entire storyline to avoid merely mentioning it.
Meanwhile, most of the episodes centered on pretty bland plot points, with the occasional bit of drama serving as an interesting hook for viewers to keep watching.
“How are we already at the last episode of the season?? Literally NOTHING happened,” one person wrote on Reddit when the finale aired. “And we had to wait a week each time for 45 minutes of nothing. I loved KUWTK, it was funny, unpredictable, light and chaotic in the best way. This new show is just a long AD and campaign about how Kim is amazing. I’m so disappointed.”
Fans also began to notice a rise in the amount of business-focused content displayed, which the sisters themselves said would be a key focus within the new show.
But the amount of work-related footage and significant lack of drama in Season 1 was nothing compared to Season 2, which saw a much more noticeable increase in all things business and a decrease in scandal.
And now, with the Season 2 finale having aired just this week, it’s more apparent than ever that the Kardashians’ approach to reality TV is entirely different from what it used to be, with fans actually theorizing that the sisters are sneakily edging away from the genre entirely and undergoing a subtle “rebrand.” Allow me to explain.
So, this season — much like the first — hardly discussed some key moments in the sisters’ lives. While the first episode did dig into Tristan Thompson’s most recent cheating scandal and provided some fascinating insight about his and Khloé’s relationship, the rest proved to be pretty mediocre when it came to drama.
For starters, there was little to no mention of Kim’s explosive feud with her ex-husband Kanye West even though this pretty much dominated social media over the months that the show was being filmed.
Kanye, now legally named Ye, repeatedly bashed Kim and her then-boyfriend, Pete Davidson, after expressing a strong desire to rekindle their romance a year on from when she filed for divorce.
Ye outright accused Kim and her sisters of kidnapping their 4-year-old daughter, Chicago, and went on to falsely claim that he’d been denied access to see their children altogether.
Pete ended up responding to Ye with a pretty lengthy series of messages — including the now-viral text about being “in bed” with his “wife” Kim — and the whole thing caused a huge stir online.
However, The Kardashians showed absolutely no footage from the feud, only providing a couple of very brief references to the discord throughout the entire season.
Speaking of Pete, his short appearance in the show was arguably just as lackluster. Fans had expected to see lots of the comedian on the show after producers confirmed he would feature, and he popped up repeatedly in the trailers. But he only made one on-camera appearance — in the penultimate episode of the season.
Meanwhile, Kim, Khloé, Kris, and Kylie were also caught up in a strenuous legal battle with Blac Chyna, ex-finacé of their brother, Rob Kardashian. Again, while we know that the details of the actual trial were incredibly messy, the minimal content we saw about it onscreen didn’t provide anything new.
It’s also worth noting that this season saw a significant lack of Scott Disick content, which has been labeled disappointing by fans, too. But we’ll come back to this later.
Taking to TikTok to share a popular theory about the show’s significant lack of drama, user @nataliethehero, who runs the iconic North West parody account @norisblackbook, delved into the topic even further.
“Remember when they first launched the show and they kept saying, ‘it’s different, it’s new, it’s documentary-style?’” Natalie questions. “I figured it out. It’s new in the fact that there is absolutely no drama.”
“They intentionally do not have any drama or any conflict on the show,” she says, before rightfully pointing out that while some might argue that Tristan’s paternity scandal was showcased, the athlete was never actually confronted on camera, minimizing how messy that storyline could’ve been.
“They never made it a big thing, it was more so showing us Khloé and trying to get the audience to have compassion for her,” she says.
Natalie then goes on to suggest that Kourtney’s reasoning for being involved in the Hulu show had everything to do with its lack of drama — something that is entirely plausible, given that Kourt memorably stepped away from filming KUWTK and later accused the “toxic” show of turning her into a “character.”
“I also think the big reason that Kourtney even agreed to do this series is that they agreed that she would not have to put her trauma on display for the world,” Natalie says. “I also think she’s 100% not interested in fighting with any one of the family members on camera anymore.”
Drawing a direct comparison between their former and current reality shows, Natalie summarizes: “On E!, we got soap opera—level drama. On Hulu, it is peaceful, it is calm.”
And in a follow-up video, Natalie goes on to suggest that the lack of Scott Disick content in the show — especially in comparison with the amount of airtime Kourtney's husband, Travis Barker, received — has everything to do with the sisters opting for a peaceful approach.
Scott was a centerpiece in KUWTK, and while he featured quite heavily in Season 1 — and often complained about being excluded from the family as Kourt and Travis’s relationship developed — viewers wound up finding themselves picking sides, with some defending Scott and others condemning him.
Some people even ended up pitting him and Travis against each other, all of which resulted in more drama.
Kourtney was also incredibly vocal about her annoyance at the show's editors for including so much of Scott's reaction in the episode about her and Travis's engagement, which she claimed "overshadowed" their "fairy-tale" moment.
Ahead of Season 2, Kourtney also revealed that she had "no idea" if Scott would appear in any of the episodes despite him being listed as an executive producer on the show. And so, some fans now believe that Scott being axed from Season 2 was a deliberate move to stray from the messy content, giving the Kardashians a more polished public image.
Viewers of the viral TikTok ultimately suggested that the Kardashians’ new style of TV is actually a very conscious effort from them “to rebrand” themselves and move away from their reality star status entirely.
“Talk about how this is an effort to rebrand them. They’re rebranding themselves currently. The whole family,” one user said.
“It’s possible their attempt / goal to change their image. To be taken seriously. Sales. Advancement. Power,” suggested another. In response, Natalie wrote: “could be their grand exit from reality tv.”
Going on to use Kendall Jenner as an example, Natalie points out that the model has deliberately been branded as “an 818 business girly that also likes to flip houses in her spare time” in the Hulu show. “This is another rebrand. Showing that she’s more than a model, she’s got businesses, she’s got ideas, she’s a creative,” she says.
All in all, people found themselves agreeing with the viral theory and took to the comments to express their thoughts. “They are hour long commercials for their brand,” one person wrote of the episodes. “No wonder we’re all bored I didn’t even realize this!” said another.
“Its a sanitized version of KUWTK,” someone else agreed. “I get that it’s their prerogative to show what they want us to see but it’s a snooze fest on autopilot.”