What would be the Kardashian version of a serpent eating its own tail? One would assume it’s a Keeping Up With the Kardashians star swallowing a Louboutin, but the season 17 premiere of the E! series proves that theory is incorrect. Instead, it’s a Kardashian family member running out of a party sobbing over something someone said about a KUWTK trailer.
Yes, KUWTK drama is now based on supplementary KUWTK materials — and it’s all Tristan Thompson’s fault. Our greatest celebrity reality show is finally caving in on itself.
Sunday night’s Keeping Up episode, “Birthdays and Bad News, Part 1,” is based around two separate birthday parties: True Thompson’s very first one and Kourtney Kardashian’s momentous 40th birthday bash. The end of the fall 2019 premiere unveils the events of the former in all its tense glory. Going into the soiree, True’s mom Khloé Kardashian is worried to see her ex, and True’s father, Tristan Thompson in the wake his cheating scandal. Khloé is concerned about the negative feelings seeing the man who broke her heart will bring up. Family members like Kim Kardashian are panicked partygoers will be far more interested in sneaking a peek at Khloé and Tristan’s first public outing than celebrating baby True.
Yet, everyone is wrong about what the worst moment of the party will be. The great catastrophe ends up being Tristan talking about the KUWTK season 16 trailer that came out the month prior (the video debuted on March 27 and True’s party was April 14). Emotions are running high before we even learn of Tristan’s irritation over the clip, since various Kardashians are wondering why the basketball player is having a lengthy conversation with Kardashian husband Kanye West. So, Kim, ever living for drama, marches over to investigate.
“He didn’t like that ‘Runaway’ intro,” Kanye succinctly explains to his wife.
This is where one likely needs to be reminded what “that ‘Runaway’ intro” is in the first place. If you look back at the season 16 trailer, you’ll notice a very specific instrumental track is playing over the entire video. It’s a version of Kanye West’s 2010 track “Runaway” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The most infamous lines of the song are, “Let's have a toast for the douche bags. Let's have a toast for the assholes. Let's have a toast for the scumbags. Every one of them that I know.” It is well known the trailer in question focused on Tristan’s murky evening with Jordyn Woods.
The shady meaning behind the song choice couldn’t be more obvious. The Kardashians were lobbying every criticism from “Runaway” right at Tristan in front of the world. He noticed.
“He felt like we were using my music to, like, even reinforce like, his narrative,” Kanye tells Kim. Later, when Khloé enters the conversation, Kanye reiterates the statement, saying, “He didn’t like that we put ‘Runaway’ to you guys’ narrative.” Upon hearing this explanation, Koko runs away from the party in tears. This is all too much.
The chaos of making Keeping Up has long influenced the series itself. Since August 2018 alone, the main trio of Kardashian sisters had to reckon with their greatest resentments as co-stars through filming and then live tweet their feelings as the footage aired. Then, in season 16, Kourtney and Kendall Jenner turned on Khloé for her part as the go-between in their argument, which anchored “Heavy Meddle.”
But, the sob-inducing kerfuffle at True’s birthday party is different. KUWTK used one person’s song to infuriate another person totally off-screen. Then, the infuriated person came to a party being filmed for KUWTK with the direct purpose of confronting the very person who wrote the song. That heated discussion then fueled an entire new Kardashian argument and crying jag that became powerful enough to stand as a premiere episode cliffhanger and a lightening rod for more drama further into the season. It’s an astounding bit of meta synergy. It’s a new level of using every bit of the Kardashian industrial complex for parts.
Yet, this achievement in celebrity culture isn’t the apex of KUWTK’s mediation on Khloé and Tristan’s broken relationship. Instead, that arrives in the small, seemingly throwaway details the youngest Kardashian sister tosses out about the reconstruction period of hers and Tristan’s post-scandal co-parenting. While headlines about the exes have been dominating gossip sites for over a year, only Keeping Up can give us the true insider information. We’re talking details like Tristan’s obsessive Facetiming or the fact that he was invited to Khloé’s rental manse ahead of True’s party. The shocking results of that visit were Tristan’s endeavors to woo Khloé through requests for wine and an ill-advised attempt at a kiss.
Now that kind of spillage is why we’re all still keeping up with the Kardashians.