By Darren Franich
Updated January 30, 2012 at 06:25 AM EST
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Credit: E!

What are we to make of Kim Kardashian? She has everything that a human being could conceivably desire. She is cartoonishly beautiful and monstrously wealthy. She eats at only the finest restaurants and wears only the finest clothes. She lives in a big expensive house in Los Angeles, except when she occasionally decides to live in a big expensive suite in Manhattan, and you get the vibe that she has a big expensive place to live in every major city in the world. She recently got paid a huge sum of money to fly to Dubai, where her work consisted of smiling and waving and finding increasingly vapid ways to express her undying love for Dubai. A crack team of makeup elves follows her everywhere, ensuring that she always looks magazine-perfect and robo-pretty. She will never go hungry. She will never go broke. She will never wake up in an uncomfortable bed. Those are not even concerns that she could understand. Our problems are as remote to her as were the problems of the common slave to the Pharaoh.

Think about the most leisurely thing you’ve ever done — flying First Class on an international flight, staying at an all-inclusive tropical resort, ordering the Suckling Pig, buying an expensive outfit that you’re only going to wear once, taking a taxi when you could’ve just taken the subway, whatever. Kim Kardashian does all of those things, weekly, daily.

This is all very important to understand, because Kim Kardashian spent last night’s season finale of Kourtney and Kim Take New York blubbering like a Depression-era street orphan trying to start a fire to warm his hands up so that he can get enough feeling in his frostbite-numb fingers to steal a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister. Now, we should pause here to note that everyone has an opinion about Kim Kardashian, and you can reduce all of those opinions to three key theories:

1. Everything she says is a lie. The marriage to Kris Humphries was a publicity stunt. The various petty dramas which play out on the Kardashians’ TV shows are conceived by a talented team of writers and performed by the world’s least talented family of actors. She does not love you. She does not love her dentist. She does not want to start a Bible-study group.

2. Everything she says is completely true. She was genuinely in love with Kris Humphries, and like a lot of naive young people, they decided to get married. She really does get into fights with every member of her family on a weekly basis. If she could, she would send all of her fans a personal handwritten letter of love.

3. Everything she says is a lie, but she believes that everything she says is completely true. This might make her sound schizophrenic, but the ability to convince yourself into believing something that you know to be false is actually incredibly valuable, especially if you’re a murder suspect or an American politician.

Theory No. 3 was borne out in last night’s season finale, which focused on the final breakdown of the Kim-Frankenstein marriage. Much was made in the episode about all the various problems that Kim had been experiencing in her relationship. She didn’t really know her husband very well. They didn’t have anything to talk about. They didn’t have any of the same friends. Even worse, they had two completely different perspectives on their future together. Kris Humphries told his sister-in-law, “I have a place in Minnesota. I have a big piece of land. I want to build the dream home.” Fellow viewers, isn’t that such a striking All-American vision? A piece of land. A dream home. The notion of Minnesota. It’s almost like Kris Humphries is a character in a John Steinbeck novel. Specifically, the John Steinbeck novel about the dull-witted man-hulk who likes stories about rabbits.

NEXT PAGE: The Breakdown

Tensions between the two reached a boiling point. Kris wanted to ship his boxes out to Kim’s house in Los Angeles. Kim said that his stuff wouldn’t fit in her house, because she has lots of clothes or something. Kourtney offered some unwelcome marital advice: “You’re such a bitch, Kim.” At that point, Kim ran down the hotel hall to what appeared to be the backstage makeup room from All About Eve, and she began the Breakdown. Here’s what she said:

Now, to people who believe in Theory No. 1, this all probably just looked like an extended crocodile-tears fake monologue. But I would argue that that theory doesn’t really make any sense: We can all agree that Kim Kardashian is not a good actress, so there’s no way those tears weren’t real. Partisans of Theory No. 2 would argue that we’re being totally cynical, and Kim is just a girl who wanted a fairy-tale marriage and didn’t realize that actual fairy tales — as opposed to the cleaned-up Disney brand of fairy tale — are horrifying stories that always end up teaching people sad lessons about the madness of existence.

I think, though, that Kim wasn’t crying because her marriage was ending. She was crying because, for one brief moment, she suddenly realized the very basic truth that the rest of us figured out months ago: Her marriage could never last because she is on television. For some bizarre reason, she decided to take her new husband straight from the honeymoon into the least livable living situation imaginable: Sharing an apartment with an insane person (Kourtney), the spawn of Satan (Scott), a child who seems destined to always have a Band-Aid on his face (Mason), and a flock of camerapeople desperate to capture the new couple at their absolute worst.

How could anyone think that a healthy relationship could flourish in that situation? Kim did — or at least she convinced herself she did, probably with some help from her cruel overseers at E! and her Machiavellian mother. As the episode came to a close, Kim took the unusual step of breaking the fourth wall: “I film everything. I’m so open with the public. There comes a time when you have to handle your issues privately. I need to go back home in LA. We just need to figure this out privately.”

Which is, in context, an utterly ludicrous thing to say. Every other aspect of their relationship was captured by the cameras. (You have to figure that, if Kris Jenner had been in the loop, she would have insisted that Kim confront her husband with divorce papers on camera.) But that was how Kourtney and Kim Take New York ended: After a season of teasing the Kris-Kim divorce, the episode concluded with the pair technically still together.

They couldn’t look each other in the eye as they were driven out to the airport. They looked like a couple high schoolers already regretting going all the way at the prom. They looked like Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross at the end of The Graduate. They looked, in short, like two people who badly wished that there wasn’t a camera staring straight at them. For a brief, fascinating moment, Kourtney and Kim Take New York was a reality show about people trying to escape from being on a reality show.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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