Self-Promotion on the Beach

Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami is mindless, shameless, and well worth watching.

Kourtney & Khloé Kardashian in Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami

In these days of pseudo-celebrity and rampant vapidity, of self-objectification and professional narcissism, of commodified sex and degraded love on every channel—in these days of what a friend terms the death of culture—it is healthy every now and then to cry uncle, sit back, and appreciate the mindless pleasures that the apocalypse has to offer. In such a spirit of giggling capitulation do I recommend Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami (E!, Sundays at 10 p.m. ET), a reality show about frivolity, sorority, and the bikini bottoms of South Beach. The heroines are Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian. It is common to say that people like Kourtney and Khloé are “famous for being famous.” False! They are primarily famous for being the sisters of Kim Kardashian, the callipygian model-actress and sex-tape starlet. However, Kourtney and Khloé have stayed famous by simply being famous, and that is its own achievement. The three girls’ shared aesthetic mingles red-carpet sultry and hip-hop vampy. Somehow one feels that a Kardashian is most in her element wearing white jeans under a black light in a VIP room. They’re confident enough never to let good taste stand in the way of making a big impression. They co-own a boutique called Dash, which sells boring dresses at a number of different price points. Its Web site also sells spring water: “Inside, there is a picture of your favorite Dash sisters imprinted on the bottle!” $8. The premise or pretense of Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami involves the two opening a second boutique in North America’s most refined and subdued metropolitan area. “Single sisters in Miami,” one says to the camera. “We’re in party city,” says the other, as if completing the pitch. The girls blur together whenever they’re explicitly promoting themselves, which is about half the time, but it’s otherwise pretty easy to keep Kourtney and Khloé straight. Kourtney, slighter and softer, is the nondiva, merely a darling piglet among camera hogs. Khloé is the drama queen. Her other gig in Miami is hosting a late-night radio show. Given her vivid shamelessness and her keen reluctance to shut up, she promises to be a hit. The central conflict in Sunday’s episode concerns a visit that sister Kim is making to Miami to promote the store. Initially, Khloé is cheesed off that Kim that is not making like a team player. “Kim is busy working on her personal brand,” she says, rolling her eyes with her whole body, clearly disgruntled that her own brand is still in gestation. We have to wait a scene or two to see the van that Khloé’s radio station has tricked out to promote her show. In its rendering of her face, she’s got footwide eyelashes that look like they’ve been slathered in pine tar and a finger up to her pout. The Khloé brand is steamy, so steamy as to suffocate. Tensions between Kim and Khloé come to a head at a prelaunch meeting with the boutique’s Miami publicists. Khloé, unable to bear it that Kim’s appearance at the launch party is good PR, behaves with tremendous petulance. Kim, unwilling to be the target of such crankiness, calls Khloé stupid. Kourtney, trying to find a way to act as a mediator, fidgets with her phone, a BlackBerry that sets off her manicure nicely. The producers, wanting us to believe it possible that Kim might actually skip town before the party, present a scene in which Kim Kardashian packs her luggage to go back to California. For my money, a scene depicting an attractive, empty celebrity packing her bags is what reality TV is all about. Watch her folding the T-shirts with care, then sling the four-figure Louboutin boots on top. Glamour, banality, voyeurism, excess. It’s all rather purple, a lovely lurid sunset.