“We’re sharing every last detail of our lives. I just think our show is what made us. I’ll always want to give it my all. I’ll always want to film and be a part of it and give everything I can.”
During the second episode of the third season of The Kardashians, Kim Kardashian pushed back against criticism that she doesn’t discuss every last detail of her life in her family’s long-running reality show. Kim explained that, with the exception of certain romantic relationships (at the time, she was specifically referencing her ex, Pete Davidson, who didn’t appear in Season Two despite still being together), she lives, breathes, and ugly-cries for the sake of producing enough content to fill a new season of their show. It is, after all, the center of the entire Kardashian empire.
And sure, Kim did open up about her divorce from Kanye West and his headline-making antisemitic tirades and public meltdowns. Fans watched as Kim broke down in tears while discussing her internal struggle over whether she should condemn her ex-husband’s harmful words or stay silent in an effort to protect their children. It was a conversation that was a long time coming and arguably a bit overdue for fans, who often conflate Kim’s silence with its own form of complicity. As a viewer, it was a relief to see that she was just as hurt by Kanye’s words as the rest of the world was. No matter the situation, seeing Kim’s human, emotional side has almost always won her favor with her fans.
But why then, I ask, did she completely skip over one of the biggest Kardashian-family scandals of the past year? As Season Three came to a close, not one mention of the Balenciaga pedophilia conspiracy was made.
As a reminder, Balenciaga came under fire in November 2022 after the brand’s attempt to promote their Balenciaga Gift Shop holiday-themed tchotchkes. Photos from the campaign featured young children (reportedly children of company staff) holding what appeared to be BDSM-themed teddy bears, causing swift backlash. The outrage grew after an unrelated Spring 2023 campaign included documents from a Supreme Court case about child pornography.
Less than a week after the ad went live, Balenciaga pulled the images and issued an apology, calling the entire thing a mistake. “We strongly condemn child abuse, it was never our intent to include it in our narrative,” Balenciaga told Rolling Stone in a statement. “Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children. The two separate ad campaigns in question reflect a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.”
Almost immediately, fans began calling for Kim to speak out against the brand, as the reality star has worked with Balenciaga for years, including wearing them to the 2021 Met Gala and walking in their Paris Fashion show earlier in 2022. She eventually addressed her silence in a Twitter statement, saying she appreciated Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns. “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened,” Kim said. Exactly an hour after her post, and seemingly after noticing that her fans weren’t quite satisfied with her response, Kim added an additional statement, saying she was “re-evaluating” her relationship with the brand.
But nothing ever came of said “re-evaluation,” and in the months since the scandal, Kim has continued wearing the brand in public. Sure, she might not be wearing the Balenciaga logo splashed across her chest or proudly emboldened on a handbag, but if you look closely enough, you’ll see her sporting a pair of Balenciaga’s metallic sunglasses or wearing a massive pink fur coat made by the company — which, in and of itself, signals some level of forgiveness and approval. Some have argued that it would be unreasonable to expect Kim to get rid of all of her existing Balenciaga clothes and accessories, but lest we not forget that this woman is a billionaire who can easily afford a new wardrobe. As the old saying goes: if she wanted to, she would.
So when The Kardashians Season Three was announced, fans were anxiously awaiting more insight from Kim on her thoughts on the scandal — and her decision to continue promoting the brand, even if more subtly. But she didn’t offer anything. It was never even mentioned. In one scene from the eighth episode of the season titled “I Have Some Very Important News,” Kim walked into a room and noticeably set her $3,150 Balenciaga bag down on a table. They weren’t hiding it — they just weren’t going to directly acknowledge it.
Instead, they gave airtime to Kourtney Kardashian’s own fashion-related mini-scandal, showing her deal with the fallout of signing on as the sustainability ambassador of Boohoo – a move that many viewed as a blatant attempt at greenwashing in the fashion industry. And they gave countless time (and episodes) toward a nothingburger fight between Kim and Kourtney over who is most entitled to the Dolce and Gabbana brand (read: rich people problems). And don’t even get me started on the countless mindless scenes between Kendall and Kylie Jenner where they spent time doing activities like driving and riding horses together just so they could clock in enough hours of filming to justify their paycheck. At any point, the show could have easily cut one or two scenes to make room for the Balenciaga storyline.
Perhaps, one might think, the show wasn’t filming when the scandal broke. Wrong. While it’s usually difficult to tell exactly when any given scene in the show was filmed (the show is known for sticking scenes filmed months apart into a single episode to make them appear to have occurred together much closer than they really did) it’s safe to say the timeline of the first few episodes of the new season would fall somewhere between September – December 2022. With the Balenciaga scandal breaking in mid-November, the family would have been right in the middle of filming the season, making the exclusion of the drama intentional.
This kind of blatant omission isn’t acceptable in the year 2023, which has already provided some of the best, most raw moments in reality-TV history, thanks to Vanderpump Rules‘ “Scandoval.” It seems almost silly that we have Tom and Ariana from VPR having their first post-cheating conversation on camera for the world to see, and yet Kim can’t give a few minutes of her time to address a major scandal in her own world? It’s simply not going to fly.
For a family who used to rule reality TV to drop the ball in such a major way, it begs the question: Will they ever get back on top? The bar has been raised, and if they aren’t going to truly give it their all like they claim to want to do, the Kardashians might officially be dethroned.