Last night’s Kourtney & Kim Take Miami featured its most shocking images yet. Stay with me here. I know that, in the context of a hyperbolic, compulsively confessional reality franchise like the Kardashians’, superlatives have basically been rendered meaningless. And yet… could any Kardashian viewer, casual or otherwise, ever expect to see an animal murdered, bled out, and skinned? Because that is exactly what happened on the episode cheekily, cruelly titled “See Ya Later, Alligator.” Scott, a pop culture figure as fashionable and questionably moral as Patrick Bateman (one of his professed heroes), got it into his head to slaughter an alligator to make a pair of loafers from its hide. The subsequent gator hunt lasted no less than three segments, probably about 20 minutes total, but it felt endless.
The story started when former Bachelor/Bachelor Pad contestant Vienna Girardi came into the mix. Scott met her in a club, and she told him her family ran an alligator farm. Lord Disick’s first thought? “I want to find an alligator and make it my shoe!” The next morning, realizing he was really going to go gator-huntin’, Scott joked(?), “I just hope they give us machine guns or some s—.” Well, the hunters didn’t have machine guns, but what followed was a bloody as anything you’d see in The Expendables. Only without any (unintentionally) ironic line reads.
By cover of night, Scott took a camo-clad entourage to shoot critters with Vienna’s male family members. He acknowledged he felt like he was doing something illicit — which, it’s incumbent upon me to note, he wasn’t… technically. E! — who, along with Scott’s camp, had not responded to EW’s request for comment at time of press — uploaded the moments before the kill to their official Kourtney & Kim Take Miami page, but it says a lot that this video holds back on the gore in a way that producers did not last night. (More video and audio are available via HuffPo.)
It was an innocent enough idea -- the passing fancy of a pink Oxford-wearing city boy out to show some down-home good times for a goofball TV show. But when the alligator was shot behind the eye and pools of bright red blood began to gather under its carcass, one of TV's most ridiculously contrived reality shows got uncomfortably real.
Producers made an effort to explain away the carnage. During the killing, they inserted a talking head interview of Scott saying a shot to the eye was more humane than other methods. Cut to several shots of the gushing corpse being dragged through the swamp and hoisted, still twitching, onto a steel table to be skinned. In another VO, Scott explained that gators twitch for hours after they die because of all the nerves in their bodies. Ummm, you just made it worse, guys.
Perhaps I'm projecting, but you get the sense producers knew the footage was disturbing and thus were couching themselves for the inevitable blowback (more on that later). More telling, the last 30 minutes of the show focused on Scott's half-hearted guilt over the death of the alligator... after he chowed down on fried gator nuggets. (And Kourtney called him "barbaric.")
It's not the first time -- this season even -- that Kourtney & Kim has pushed the envelope. Just last week, youngest sister Khloé moderated a contest over which of her sisters had the sweetest-smelling vagina. Kim and Kourt spent days chugging pineapple juice before rubbing their crotches with napkins, which they then shoved in Khloé's face. (For those keeping score, Kim won.) Did we see the actual trou-drop? No. Here's what we did see:
That said, we have seen plenty of scenes involving the Kardashian "ladies'" own bodily fluids. Here's Kim using Kourtney's breast milk to "cure" her psoriasis:
Here's Kim using her own blood in a painful, cringe-inducing vampire facelift:
Again, these three scenarios all happened this season.
Yet this time felt different. Even for a franchise that prides itself on pushing the envelope (remember Kris sending Rob to the hospital on Keeping Up after spiking Bruce's coffee with Viagra?), this was beyond the pale.
As stated above, I know what I'm getting into when I flick on E! every Sunday night. I have essentially signed a contract with the Kardashians' vast, ever-permeating reality empire. They show me ridiculous nonsense and fabulous clothes, I only cover one eye and one nostril when I take in the Dash & Co.'s foolery. Were the aforementioned incidents TMI and gross? Yes. But they were presented with a certain winking cheekiness and involved willing participants both on- and off-screen. I came to play, is what I'm saying.
What don't I come to this show to see? Animal carcasses. I'm sure this stuff is par for the course on Swamp People. I wasn't watching Swamp People.
I wasn't alone in this feeling. Tori Spelling tweeted an immediate reaction to the hunting sequence, saying it "sent [her] over the edge." And PETA -- whom Khloé Kardashian stripped down for before a member flour-bombed Kim on the red carpet -- predictably railed against Scott, telling In Touch, "It takes a small man to kill an animal for fun." Like me, TheStir wondered if Scott would back up his on-camera come-to-Jesus moment with real-world action. And that... was pretty much it. Frankly, I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger response.
I should also note this was not the first time Scott scored a subplot with one of his fashion initiatives. Remember the great walking stick debacle of 2011? The Lord Disick cape phase and the subsequent LD-embroidered eye patch he rocked after a beach injury on a recent episode? Those beats were absurdist amusements, the whims of a self-proclaimed trendsetters. But it's also worth noting that, in the case of the cane and the cape, we weren't forced to watch Scott tromp out into the woods to hack at a tree or skin a skunk, Mr. Burns-style.
Worst of all, Scott processed remorse about killing an innocent, albeit it fearsome, creature by deciding he didn't want DIY gator loafers after all. Like many of his self-started fads, the moment had passed almost quicker than it began. Only the gator was still gone, its hide and life wasted. It was all a Bateman-esque dream, only we were the ones haunted.
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