E! Entertainment appears to have adopted a full-employment act for women featured in notorious sex tapes, segueing from Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life” to Kim Kardashian, who the network charitably bills as a “tabloid princess.” In keeping with the title, though, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” actually widens its lens to encompass the whole irritating brood — including Kim’s sisters Khloe and Kourtney, mom-manager Kris and stepdad Bruce Jenner, who now has the distinction of having two sets of useless rich kids featured in pointless reality shows (his own alliterative duo, Brandon and Brody, appeared on Fox’s “Princes of Malibu”).
Once you get past Kim’s prominently displayed assets, there’s not much of a show here, and no discernible premise. As best I can tell, the tension — at least in the second episode — is supposed to stem from the fact that, as presented, Kris (who E!’s press release rather ickily dubs a “momager”) is fairly inept at handling her daughter’s non-career.
Indeed, were it not for E! (which previously featured Kourtney in “Filthy Rich Cattle Drive”) and the tabloids, the Kardashian gals would be reduced to a footnote as the daughters of the late Robert Kardashian, a lawyer who gained attention during O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.
Perhaps inevitably, the show exhausts most of its cache during the premiere, when Kim frets about appearing on Tyra Banks’ daytime show and how they’ll couch the conversation regarding her infamous (and widely available online!) videotaped frolic with rapper Ray J.
Elsewhere, one of her sisters goes on a date, Kris contemplates what’s best for her talentless tarts, and Bruce sits around lobbing advice from the sidelines like a latter-day Mike Brady, albeit if “The Brady Bunch” was somehow blended with “Nip/Tuck.”
The one amusing aspect of “Keeping Up” is the direct-to-camera interviews. All the Kardashians (and Jenners) seem to recognize that this is their shot at being more than pin-up fodder and thus work extra hard to be engaging, but they often sound conspicuously as if they’re reading off cards. Badly.
Exec producer Ryan Seacrest is tethered to E! in a big way, so it’s understandable the channel would indulge his shallow whims. Fortunately, while they do, the rest of us don’t have to, making it pretty easy to say “Seacrest — and Kardashians — out!”