Giving birth to your first child may be the most monumental event in any person’s life. But Khloe Kardashian is not just any person.
This week, gossip websites and tabloids have been breathlessly publishing every little item about alleged cheating by Khloe’s boyfriend, Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Tristan Thompson.
The timing of it all couldn’t have been more dramatic. Khloe was reportedly nine months pregnant and in Thompson’s town, Cleveland, waiting to give birth any day. Then on Tuesday, footage published by the Daily Mail showed a man purported to be Thompson canoodling with a “mystery brunette” in New York over the weekend. Hours later, TMZ published security footage taken in October of what seemed to be the basketball player getting cozy with two women in a Washington-area hookah bar.
Items — all sourced anonymously, of course — described Khloe as “devastated,” going “absolutely ballistic” on Thompson, “shell-shocked” and “humiliated and worried for their child” and said momager Kris Jenner was headed to Cleveland to be with her daughter. Meanwhile, ET quoted an unnamed source as saying that the video of Thompson in New York “shows Tristan in a loud club briefly talking to a girl, nothing more.” The day after the scandal erupted, fans reportedly booed Thompson during a home game.
Meanwhile, according to People, cameras for the E! reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” have been rolling.
Throughout the saga, fans have been scouring the family’s social media accounts for any whiff of a response. But the characteristically open Kardashian-Jenner clan has been largely mum, posting some vacation shots and ads for its makeup lines but nothing much more revealing.
Could it be that the family is keeping quiet for privacy’s sake?
If the past is any indication, such silence is temporary. Sure, the sisters have kept quiet when they want to, but they’ve never called it quits. Kylie Jenner kept the public in the dark about whether she was even expecting, but she eventually released a video showing footage from her entire pregnancy, including in the delivery room. Kendall Jenner retreated in the wake of her tone-deaf Pepsi campaign, but five months later, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” showed how she dealt with it. “It feels like my life is over,” she tells Kim.
The family retreated in full after Kim became the victim of an armed break-in and robbery in Paris. KUWTK eventually showed the before and after of that event.
“Tonight’s episode is going to be very tough for me,” Kim wrote about the Paris episode. “However, I thought it was important to share this story through my eyes & not in an interview where my own words could be twisted. I have always shared so much & I’m not going to hold back when this was probably one of the most life changing experiences for me.”
The Kardashians became famous precisely because they chose to exhibit some of the most intimate moments of their lives on their E! reality show. It was there you could see Kim get an X-ray of her butt to prove it was real or watch Kourtney give Khloe a Brazilian wax or Kourtney concluding her labor by pulling the baby out herself.
When the show first hit the airwaves in 2007, Twitter was just an infant, and Instagram and Snapchat were still twinkles in their creators’ eyes. A reality TV show was the best, and truly only, way to give the public a constant stream of footage depicting a person’s day-to-day life.
But since then, some of the biggest moments in the family’s lives are playing out for all to see on real time in social media, so by the time an episode airs, the shock element has evaporated. It only makes sense that the ratings have been sagging, too. The show once easily averaged 2 million viewers an episode. Kim’s wedding to Kris Humphries attracted a record 10.5 million viewers. Now, hitting 1.4 million — which the show did in January — is a major feat. (And the show still came in No. 2 on cable that night, behind “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”)
So, in 2018, what can KUWTK even offer?
By not saying much publicly about the media firestorm and rumors of Thompson’s infidelity, the Kardashian-Jenner family would be preserving any scintillating footage for a future episode, if it chose to air one.
At the moment, the public is incredibly interested in any direct Kardashian-Jenner response to this saga. The question is, will folks still be by the time “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” returns with a new season?