'Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce': TV Review

Courtesy of E!
Not as tacky as it could have been

Kris Jenner and her daughters react to Bruce Jenner's decision to transition in this "very special episode" of 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians.'

When Kris Jenner and her daughters failed to appear on Bruce Jenner: The Interview last month, it was pretty much a given that they were saving their reaction for a "very special episode" of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

And so here we are. Let us never forget that the Kardashians control every aspect of their image. Bruce Jenner starts off Keeping Up with the Kardashians: About Bruce by telling the audience that he hopes that by allowing cameras into his intimate conversations with his family, he will help other families “know they are not alone.”

But, of course, if everyone’s intentions were truly this noble, the Kardashians probably could have at least appeared briefly on the Sawyer special. Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Jenner's daughters with ex-wife Kris, were the only ones to even offer comment.  

These conversations between Bruce and his daughters and step-daughters, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, took place on and around January 13 — before the Sawyer interview. Thankfully the cameras were not there when Jenner first told his loved ones about his decision. It seems even the family that lives its entire life publicly actually knows some things should remain private. Instead, the special focused on the aftermath of Jenner’s announcement, and specifically the confusion that surrounds it.

As Jenner fully admits, he’s been living "a lie" for decades. So it’s challenging now for him to be completely forthcoming. His daughters and step-daughters are shocked to discover that he’s planning on transitioning very soon. As he intimated in his interview with Sawyer, Khloe is having the most difficult time. "When is Bruce going to be gone? Do you have a time frame?" she demands. Her anger may be misplaced but her frustration is relatable."

There were several revelations. Kim explains to Kylie and Kendall that their dad’s secret was almost discovered in the 80s, but a publicist helped keep the story quiet. That same publicist is the one that recommended that he go to Sawyer to tell his story. Kendall talks about discovering her dad’s makeup and wondering if he was having an affair. And, as Jenner discussed with Sawyer, more than ten years ago, Kim came home to find him dressed as a woman. “It’s been kind of my job to keep this secret,” Kim says.

Kris was seen only briefly in the first hour of the two-night event (part two airs tomorrow night), but she tells Kim that she has “memories of this life and I feel sometimes like it didn’t exist.” And Khloe wonders if Kylie and Kendall should have a chance to say goodbye to their dad.

There were lighter moments amid all the tears. Khloe brings Bruce several pairs of new shoes as a gift. Kim is impressed by the pedicure he’s able to give himself. And then there was Kim comparing how uncomfortable she felt in her body while she was pregnant with Bruce’s life-long struggle.  

While the hour wasn’t as tacky as it could have been, something about the special cheapened the plaintive honesty Jenner displayed in his revealing interview with Sawyer. The conversations between Jenner and his family seemed a little too staged, too controlled. Maybe the emotions were raw and real but maybe they weren’t. Who can tell?

And where exactly do these two nights fit in with the announcement that the Sawyer interview was the last interview he would do as Bruce, and it was his dream to reemerge as “her?” Even if the E! interviews took place before the ABC special, viewers are seeing them now. 

“There’s no right way to do this,” Jenner says at the end of the hour — and he’s right.  But, as he explained in the Sawyer special, all those years on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, he was the real story. And now E! is certainly capitalizing on that. There was no attempt to educate the viewers about transgender issues. In true Kardashian fashion, they managed to make everything about them.