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The Kardashians Are at Their Best (and Worst) in the Season 3 Premiere

The new season kicks off with moments of extreme vulnerability and excess.
  • Kourtney Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Kylie Jenner (Photo: Hulu)
    Kourtney Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Kylie Jenner (Photo: Hulu)

    The Kardashians Season 3 begins with a brazen display of wealth. As "Cuff It" by Beyoncé plays — a music cue that surely cost Hulu an astronomical sum — Kim Kardashian steps out of a Rolls Royce and walks, in slow-motion, into a roller rink that's been rented out just for her family. She meets up with her sisters and mother, Kris Jenner, and they skate around the rink while background actors dance behind them. Strobe lights flash as the scene cuts between stylized B-roll of the background actors and the reality stars, who cram into a photo booth and touch up their hair and makeup in front of a theater-style mirror.

    "We're filming our Season 3 show opening, and we're roller skating because... why not?" Kim says of the two-and-a-half minute sequence. "We wanted a music video. It's fun!"

    Kim's not wrong: The opening is fun — after all, it's not every day you hear a Beyoncé song almost in its entirety on TV. But it's also incredibly wasteful, accomplishing nothing beyond showing off just how much cash the family, and their backers at Disney, have to blow. Once it's over, it's business as usual for The Kardashians, which segues into a scene of Kim and Khloé hanging out with Scott Disick, Kourtney's ex-boyfriend with whom she shares three children. The roller rink "music video" is never mentioned or seen again.

    The Kardashians have long been known for their excessive lifestyles, which they flaunt both on and off-camera. Their lavish parties and extensive home remodels have fueled years of drama on E!'s Keeping Up With the Kardashians and their eponymous Hulu show, so their Beyoncé-backed skating party isn't anything new. It's not even the only moment of overindulgence in the Season 3 premiere: Halfway through the episode, Kendall throws a party for her 818 Tequila brand featuring a robotic bartender. The Kardashians executive producer Ben Winston explains that it takes four men to direct the robot to make a single drink, resulting in a long wait at the bar. "One of them could just make a drink," he tells Khloé. "It'd be much cheaper!"

    Much of The Kardashians' appeal rests in seeing how the ultra-wealthy live, but the famous family is at their worst in these moments of extravagance. They're never more disconnected from reality than when they're celebrating "818 Day" (August 18) with robot-crafted cocktails or fretting over whether it's "too soon" after Kourtney's wedding to collaborate on a Dolce and Gabbana collection. (Kourtney's wedding was curated by D&G, and Kim is concerned she'll steal her sister's thunder if she agrees to the gig.) And because these parties and photo shoots and music videos are, by definition, curated, the show's veneer of authenticity falls away far more readily than it does in scenes of the Kardashian-Jenners hanging out at home or going about their daily lives.

    But The Kardashians Season 3 premiere isn't all unacknowledged privilege. The episode also features a series of moments in which the sisters discuss issues that actually affect the lives of their viewers, like Khloé's brush with melanoma. In a talking head interview, Khloé explains she had a bump on her cheek that she "assumed was a zit," but when it didn't go away after seven or eight months, she had it biopsied; it turned out to be melanoma, a type of skin cancer that Khloé was told is "incredibly rare" for someone her age. In order to stop the spread of cancerous cells, Khloé has to have the melanoma surgically removed, which she admits is a "scary" prospect.

    Khloé posted about her "tumor" in October 2022, revealing her doctor "was able to get everything" during the procedure and she's now on the mend. But following along through every step of the process, as this season promises to do, offers fans a much more detailed look at her experience — one that has the potential to help someone spot a malignant or precancerous bump of their own.

    Other storylines introduced in the premiere are likely to resonate with audiences, as well. During her conversation with Scott and Kim, Khloé shares that she's struggling to bond with her newborn son, who was born via a surrogate in July 2022. "I wish someone was honest about surrogacy and the difference of it," she says. "I felt really guilty that this woman just had my baby, and I take the baby and then I go to another room ... It's such a transactional experience because it's not about him." There's still a stigma around postpartum depression and anxiety — which can affect any new parent, including those who have used a surrogate or adopted a child — but Khloé's honesty goes a long way toward breaking down those taboos and reminding people they aren't alone.

    The same can be said for Kourtney's openness about her decision to pause her in vitro fertilization treatments. In the first two seasons, Kourtney underwent an egg retrieval procedure and various tests in hopes of having a baby with her now-husband Travis Barker, but in the Season 3 premiere, she explains that "all the things that came with IVF took a toll" on her physically and mentally, and now, she and Travis are "embracing that whatever's meant to be will be." Like Khloé, Kourtney hopes to clear up any "misunderstanding[s]" for viewers who may be in the same situation. "The freezing of the eggs isn't guaranteed," she says. "People do it thinking that it's a safety net, and then it's not."

    The real value of The Kardashians will always be in instances of vulnerability like these. When the Kardashian-Jenners use their massive platforms to spread awareness and reduce stigmas, they have the potential to change lives for the better. Viewers may have to dodge a roller skater or a robot bartender to get to these moments of impact, but if the reality show helps even one person feel seen, it's ultimately worth it.

    New episodes of The Kardashians Season 3 drop every Thursday on Hulu. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: The Kardashians, Hulu, Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kylie Jenner