“Kim’s Criminal Justice Advocacy (RECAP)”
The most surprising thing The Kardashians Season 1 has revealed is that Kendall Jenner doesn’t know how to slice cucumbers. And The Kardashians Season 1 Episode 6, “This Is a Life or Death Situation,” seals the long-forming feeling that this show just isn’t necessary.
The episode’s title isn’t hyperbolic. Kim Kardashian spends the entire installment working to commute the sentences of two death-row inmates, Brandon Bernard and Julius Jones. Tragically, Bernard was executed on December 10, 2020. And content warning for those who haven’t yet watched the episode: there is a phone call shared between Kim and Brandon during the last days of his life. His story is truly heartbreaking to watch, as is Jones’, although his sentence was successfully commuted to a life sentence without parole.
The episode’s heavy subject matter is starkly contrasted by the goings on of the family’s lives. I’m sorry, but there is just nothing interesting or entertaining about sibling squabbles, ex-boyfriend drama, and the lives of the exorbitantly wealthy in comparison to the legitimately life-threatening circumstances of the imprisoned people Kim is trying to help.
Kendall spends the first part of the episode complaining to Kourtney Kardashian and Khloé Kardashian about a fight with Scott Disick in which she was in the wrong, but can’t admit. The fight started at the end of Episode 5 and continued in Episode 6. And all it showed was an uncomfortable example of how Kendall (and everyone in the family, really) is incapable of hearing any kind of critique about them (which Scott rightly points out). Kendall and Kris Jenner‘s comments about Scott are similar to how they react to critics on social media and beyond: anyone who criticizes them is wrong and simply doesn’t understand their lives.
In other moments, Kourtney and Travis Barker continue their fertility journey. And Khloé doesn’t have much to do in the episode outside of gush about how good their family is at keeping exes in the family. Kanye West also takes his and Kim’s children to school in a firetruck.
But the main plots of this episode are Kim passing the baby bar and giving a look into her criminal justice reform work. Viewers see her calling a long list of celebrities asking them to help spread the word about Jones’ case. Her campaign was successful in the end. Jones’ death sentence was commuted to a life sentence without parole, but that life sentence is still too much for someone who (as evidence shows) likely didn’t commit the crime for which he was imprisoned. Kim and Van Jones celebrate the “round one” win, vowing to continue to help get Jones pardoned. Kim also shares a celebratory call with Jones’ sister.
— Kim Kardashian (@KimKardashian) May 18, 2022
So far, nothing about The Kardashians has been revelatory, despite the family’s promise that the Hulu show would be a deeper look into their lives, told on their terms. In truth, it barely reveals anything more than what we’ve seen on social media. And after already making 20 seasons of a show just like this, making a new one where the biggest changes are basically episode length and drone shots makes it feels more vapid than its predecessor. This reality, in contrast with Bernard and Jones’ stories, makes The Kardashians difficult to digest.
But Episode 6 showed what a Kardashian documentary series should be about, if one must exist. Kim spends a lot of time saying people discount her as dumb and talentless in this season in an attempt to prove the “haters” wrong. But perhaps the medium is the message. The Kardashians is a hollow show, and while there’s merit to easy entertainment, hasn’t there been enough of that?
Instead of making a mindless reality series that sometimes highlights your advocacy work, perhaps just focus on highlighting the advocacy work. Kim is using her televised platform for great good here, but it’s so far only one episode. Imagine the impact of an a series that focuses each episode on the plight of someone wrongfully imprisoned, led by one of the world’s most famous people who can now practice law. The series could not only shares stories like Bernard and Jones’, but also serve as a call to action to help them be freed. I, for one, would tune in every week.
Surely, we’re fully caught up with the Kardashians by now. And to use Kourtney’s own words, there’s people that are dying.
The Kardashians, New Episodes, Thursdays, Hulu
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