The Kardashians review: Kim and co’s reality TV comeback rewrites the stereotypes that once hurt them

Eleven months after they claimed to be leaving reality TV behind, the Kardashian-Jenner clan are back on the small screen. With Disney+’s The Kardashians, the family hopes that by shaking off a prefix – Keeping Up with the Kardashians ran on E! for 15 years – they can equally shake off the stereotypes they have accrued since the inception of their genre-defining show: that they’re untalented, unqualified for much, and undeserving of their wealth and success.

Swapping E! for Disney+ – who reportedly paid nine figures  for the pleasure – the family are now free to showcase whatever they want. Whereas E! sought to please their viewership with heightened drama rather than true – if slightly crafted – reality, Disney+ are open to showcasing the women’s day-to-day existences: business meetings, carpooling, house cleaning, family dinners. As a result, The Kardashians  is an  apt presentation of the family as it is today – billionaire, business-savvy sisters and mothers who broke out of the ‘reality TV star’ mould many years ago.

The first episode opens with a reintroduction to the family, though there is  no sign of youngest Kardashian  sibling Rob, who began to only appear occasionally in Keeping Up midway through its run. Kanye West, in the midst of a divorce from pop culture mogul Kim, is also absent from the first episode, but will reportedly appear later in the season.

A series of sleek drone shots – soundtracked by Silk Sonic’s “777” – catapult us between different homes and workplaces. Kim is hosting a family lunch to celebrate the first day of filming, and guests  arrive one by one to offer their reactions to the new show. There’s a notable attempt at relatability – makeup mogul Kylie, wellness connoisseur Kourtney and fitness-obsessed Khloe all mention how much they enjoyed life without cameras.  But, with apparently more control over what these cameras get to see, everyone is excited for the opportunity to showcase new angles to their personal and professional lives.

Separate segments illustrate these day-to-days, and each family member’s current challenges. When the family does come together, it isn’t forced. They’re attending events or sitting down to a meal, rather than spouting the staged conversations that we became accustomed to with Keeping Up. All unscripted series are managed to an extent but, in not advertising the show as access-all-areas (Kourtney, for example, refused to let the cameras follow her on Valentine’s Day), the family seems more authentic.

Produced by the team behind The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Kardashians  spares no expense. An abundance of crisp, saturated shots of Los Angeles beaches and rolling hills act as scene separators. The confessionals are also more descriptive than reactive, allowing for a documentary-style narrative to build.

There’s still drama and intimate  insight. Khloe is working through relationship problems with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Tristan Thompson. Kim is rallying her lawyers to fight against the threat of her sex tape resurfacing. Kourtney’s ex-partner Scott Disick, who has few close blood relatives, is trying to navigate a life in which he isn’t automatically invited to Kardashian-Jenner family events – he and Kourtney’s break-up appears to be final. As for Kourtney herself, who is loved up with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, she explains the heartfelt reason why she’s not ashamed of public displays of affection: her children have never witnessed such a loving relationship before.

Gone are  sillier subplots: the days of E! producers filling time with Khloé and Scott pulling pranks on momager Kris are no more. That said, there are still witty asides, like Kim mentioning that having a clean playroom makes her horny. “Any mom will get that,” she claims. Yes, the Kardashians have returned, baffling one-liners and all.