The Humanizing of the Kardashians

Finally watching a long-avoided reality show, we discovered that it's not so bad?

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Last night was the moment of television hopefully none of us have been waiting for: The season finale of E!'s Kourtney and Kim Take New York, the episode in which we were going to see the dissolution of future movie star Kim Kardashian's scandalously brief marriage. Shocks! Tears! Angers! We expected it all and more. But instead? It was all pretty tame.

First off, no explicit divorce was discussed on the show, not really. Obviously the implication was there, what with Kim talking about how she and her husband, NBA hollow oak tree Kris Humphries, rushed into things and how the fairy tale was over and whatnot, but the D-I-V-O-R-C-E word was never said out loud. So that was one way in which the episode didn't feel quite as dramatic as E! had been promising. (We never watch this show, this was our first full episode in fact, but they kept showing promos during SAG red carpet footage, so we figured what the the hell.)

Another way in which the episode wasn't as sensational or gut-churning as it could have been is that, for all her shallowness and all the cynicism of the sponsored luxury of her $10 million wedding, Kim did actually seem genuinely upset about falling out of love with this guy, and even expressed embarrassment at having had such a grand and lavish wedding only to end the whole thing a couple months later. She tellingly never said that she spent a lot of money, as rumor had it, most of it was paid for by other shadowy people (E!, sponsors, etc.), but she did express regret at having made other people spend money and take the time to make the trip for the occasion, which was actually rather considerate of her. Well, she's a 30-year-old adult, so she should be capable of at least that basic level of civility, but we'd always heard such nightmare stories about Kim and her brood that honestly that low level of regard for other people struck us as surprisingly human last night.

In fact, and we can't believe we're typing this, neither Kim nor her sister Kourtney came off that terribly last night. Sure, Kim was being a petulant brat at times, choosing to whine and freak out and be a jerk to her husband rather than address what was going on head-on, but other than that? They're not stupid people, and they're not entirely unlikable ones either. Kourtney in particular seems to have a decent sense of humor and a reasonably gentle relationship with her weird, gross boyfriend Scott Disick. Like, she's sort of human and understandable. Or at least she was last night. Season finales tend to draw a little introspection out of even the most heinous of reality stars, so maybe she was just in that senior class "I love everyone" mode, but we didn't hate what we saw last night.

And of course it's possible that Kim was being fed this line of emotion, that she'd been coldly preparing for it for a long while. That is always possible. But to us it seemed real, which was surprising in a way that was both heartening (she's not such a monster after all!) and disappointing (kinda wanted a monster...). We're left feeling a little befuddled, honestly. We'd formed an idea about who the Kardashians were, what they acted like and what they stood for, based on just hearsay and conjecture. What we saw last night was something distinctly less garbagey than what we'd created in our heads. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere, but we don't want to get to a point where we're actually taking lessons from Kourtney and Kim Kardashian, so let's just say that for one episode at least, the Kardashian sisters (well, two of them anyway) managed to not be total nightmares. Even if a $10 million marriage was coming to an embarrassingly quick end.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.