Over the decade-plus that “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” has been airing on E!, the producers have become extremely skilled at dragging out drama. They offer just enough juicy hints while giving away almost no details, until the perfect time arrives for maximum publicity.
It’s truly the reason that the reality show has successfully endured for 16 seasons – and a logistical necessity, given that episodes about Kardashian-Jenner scandals typically air many months after they actually happened.
And sure enough, Sunday night’s Season 16 premiere had absolutely nothing to do with the story that has consumed the family for the last six weeks: That time model Jordyn Woods (Kylie Jenner’s longtime best friend) kissed NBA player Tristan Thompson (Khloé Kardashian’s boyfriend and father of her daughter) at a party.
When Khloé discovered the betrayal in February, she reportedly immediately dumped Thompson, and Woods – who lived in Kylie’s home – was kicked out and shunned by the family. This resulted in an internet meltdown among the millions of their fans, hungry for information.
Woods provided some fodder during an emotional interview with Jada Pinkett Smith on “Red Table Talk.” Khloé fired back with some angry tweets. And leading up to the premiere, Kris Jenner revealed to “KUWTK” executive producer Ryan Seacrest that she’s relied on prayer to get through the drama.
Kylie told the New York Times that she wasn’t the one who slashed the prices on Woods’ lip kits that are sold through her cosmetics company: “That is just not my character. I would never do something like that and when I saw it, I was like, thrown back.”
Otherwise, everyone has been savvy about not sharing too much about what really happened. (How did Khloé find out? Did Kylie ever speak to her best friend again? Are we going to hear from Thompson?) The family knows to save those details for the show.
Still, there were a few expertly woven hints that showed how the madness will play out. In an extremely melodramatic trailer at the start of Sunday’s episode, Khloé sobbed as she sat for an interview with a producer. “It just sucks it has to be so public. I’m not just a TV show. This is my life!” Other lines from Khloé included “My family was ruined” and “Tristan might love me but he has no respect for me whatsoever.” Another scene, apparently to prove how close Woods was with the Kardashian-Jenners, featured everyone sitting around a table and raising their glasses “to Jordyn and Kylie.” Uncomfortable!
“Sometimes the world just forgets to be kind and that we’re all going through something,” Khloé said through tears at the end of the trailer. “Maybe just be a little more understanding because it. . .sucks.”
Cut to the actual episode, which focused on several other story lines: Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West visited Chicago. Kim and Kanye resolved a feud with Kanye’s one-time collaborator, Rhymefest. Kourtney Kardashian tried to get over a breakup with a trip to Palm Springs. Kris Jenner felt guilty that she pressured her mother to move to Calabasas, Calif., but was too busy to spend time with her.
Then, in one brief scene, the cameras showed Khloé happily on FaceTime with Thompson during a photo shoot. “Love you, bye,” she said as she hung up.
“It’s been a few months. Me and Tristan are great,” Khloé told the producers – an ominous sign of drama to come.