The machine that is Keeping Up With the Kardashians is still chugging along into its upcoming 14th season, and it has spit out another spin-off along the way.
Life of Kylie is centered around the youngest daughter in the Kardashian household, Kylie Jenner. Billed as a "docu-series," the show dives into the everyday life of the 19-year-old model and cosmetics entrepreneur.
The documentary style that's pitched is promising on the surface. An authentic look at one of the most famous young women in the world sounds fascinating, even if you're sick and tired of the Kardashian family dominating the headlines.
Unfortunately, Life of Kylie doesn't really pull this off. It tries — and surprisingly succeeds at moments — but it's still bogged down in reality TV tropes that make it cringe-worthy at points.
There are two sides of the show: the show the Jenner seemingly wants it to be and the show that the producers want it to be.
Throughout the two-part premiere of Life of Kylie, you get these sprinkled in moments of Jenner just being a goofy, fun teenage girl. You even get spliced-in iPhone videos she made as a preteen in certain moments. Jenner confesses that she feels like the fun-loving person in these videos, but she has to keep up her public image.
Later in the episode, Jenner prepares to take a fan to his prom and makes a seemingly genuine confession about what it was like to see all her former school friends headed to prom without her (because she was homeschooled and living a life of fame at this point). You then see the absolute madness she has to deal with when in public, with seas of phone cameras swarming around her as she enters the celebration.
These are the moments you feel oddly sympathetic towards Jenner. She really didn't choose to be put in the public eye, but she has embraced it. These moments remind you that celebrities are, at the end of the day, just people. People with a lot of money and possessions, but still people, nonetheless.
If Life of Kylie was all about tackling those thoughts, it'd be a solid documentary about fame. However, those moments of clarity are few and far between, at least in the premiere episodes.
Much of the show centers around these obviously set up moments that are simply the norm for reality television. A good example of this are the scenes with background about Jenner's friends, which are then turned into plot points.
We learn that Jenner's best friend Jordyn Woods longs for someone who doesn't like her because she's friends with Jenner. What follows is a long scene about Jenner spying on as Woods, who is on a blind date. She's hiding in a van talking to Woods into an earpiece, and it feels like one of those corny MTV dating shows from the mid-2000s.
While on the plane to the prom (another super-staged activity), Jenner learns her friend also didn't get a prom experience. Jenner then miraculously is able to get his boyfriend to the prom (which, reminder, was a flight away) just in time for a special moment.
The most-disappointing staged moment comes at the very end of the two-part premiere. Jenner and Woods just need to vent about fame so they "randomly" pull over on the side of the road and run onto the beach to talk. Luckily, the E! crew just happened to be hanging out at that same beach and was able to capture the entire conversation. What a coincidence, right?
This comes off as disappointing because in this whole spiel, Jenner vents about her fame in a way that one could sympathize with, but it's done in such an unnatural way. That then makes you backtrack and think about if those moments when you sympathized with her earlier are actually the "real" Jenner, or if it's just what she wants you to hear.
Unless you were there during the filming and editing of Life of Kylie, there's really no way to know the answer to that. However, Jenner's dialogue at the series' opening might help you decide for yourself.
"Nobody has a perfect life," she says. "The only different thing about me or out of the ordinary, really, is probably just that I have nice things. But what you realize when you get there, when I know I can buy any car, any house. That happiness lasts two seconds. That's not my real happiness. That's not where I find happiness."
If her words sound fake to you, then so be it. If it comes off as mostly truthful, well, hopefully we'll get a Netflix-style Kardashian documentary somewhere down the line. Until then, Life of Kylie is the best look at the Kardashian family's fame we have, even if needs to be taken with a rather large grain of salt.
E!'s two-part Life of Kylie premiere airs on Sunday at 8 p.m. CT.
Photo Credit: E! / Brian Bowen Smith0comments