Kim’s sex tape wasn’t mentioned in the 10-year-anniversary special that aired on Sunday night, hosted by the inscrutably bland and improbably ageless Ryan Seacrest. But E!, for the first time, aired the original Keeping Up With the Kardashians sales tape, a minute of footage that turned a wealthy Calabasas family into a global media brand. “Hey, I’m Kim Kardashian, and I get to live every girl’s dream,” Kim, a celebrity stylist at the time, intoned over footage of her posing for photographers, signing autographs, and rifling through stacks of clothing. Seconds later, she was introducing her family. “I’m going to throw raw chicken up your cooch,” her sister Kourtney yelled in grainy definition, apropos of nothing. The reel went on to explain how Kim’s dad was Robert Kardashian, O.J. Simpson’s best friend, and how 16 years ago, Kris had divorced Robert and married the retired Olympian Bruce—now Caitlyn—Jenner. Then Kim wrapped up. Whatever the future held, she explained, “we’ll fight, scratch, and bitch our way through all the drama, together as one big happy family.”
Both the sizzle reel and the anniversary special were presumably meant to be triumphant: the before-and-after celebrations of a family so influential that a simple cocaine rumor involving Kim garnered more social-media engagement than Donald Trump Jr.’s screenshotted Russia emails. And yet, as the 90-minute show went on, it felt increasingly sad, no matter how gamely Kris and her daughters joked about most of them not going to college, or a younger Kim thinking grapefruit was called “greatfruit.” The most mournful presence was Scott Disick, Kourtney’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her three children, seen frowning backstage as Kourtney blithely told a million or so viewers that their relationship was “definitely psychotic.” Over the course of the evening, Disick gnawed anxiously on his hand, sank back into his chair with his feet on the set’s coffee table, and grimaced repeatedly. “I’m dying over here,” he said at one point, a statement that everyone politely ignored.
Then there was Rob Kardashian, notable primarily by his absence, and by the fact that the only footage screened of him all night was from seven or eight years ago, before his weight gain and his self-imposed reclusion. “Our buddy Rob isn’t here,” Seacrest noted briefly, and somewhat patronizingly. “How’s Rob doing, Kris?” Kris assured the world that Rob was doing well, that he’s working on a new clothing line, and she sees him every day. “We’re literally on a family group chat,” Kendall Jenner added, confessing that she frequently mutes it because the messages are too much. At which point Rob was so swiftly forgotten that it became newly apparent why he had to have a baby with his half-sister’s boyfriend’s ex-fiancée to get some of his mother’s attention (the drama all captured, naturally, in a one-season E! docusoap produced by Seacrest and Kris Jenner).