Keeping Up with the Kardashians: S08E11: "Life's a Beach (House)"
By Mark Abraham· Sep 03, 2013
Editorial Note, 1 June 2015
These recaps were written before Caitlyn Jenner came out, is the reason they use incorrect names and pronouns.
“Life’s a Beach (House)” is all about how what you selfishly want is often at odds with what the people you love need.
The Set-Up: In the previous episode, “Opa!”, Brody and Brandon decided that Bruce needed a putting green because their father had no power over his domineering wife, Kris. This despite the fact that half the episodes this season show him and them doing all kinds of family shit all over the Jenner compound. I think the moral here is that because Bruce can move his ping pong table and helicopters around they have no permanence, so his sons think he needs to plant a putting green in the backyard to assert his manhood or something. Is it going to look like this?
You kind of have to ignore the whole Malibu Man Cave thing for this episode to work (which…the show is certainly hand-waving that shit), but once you do “Life’s a Beach (House)” becomes probably the best episode thus far this season, precisely because it does that thing that Kardashian shows, when they want to, do so well: you start the episode on Bruce’s side because Kris is pretty domineering, but by the end you’re pretty much on Kris’s side because…well, Bruce, right? They’re both right and wrong, but for once, while they can solve this problem with their money, it’s not inconceivable that they have this problem despite their wealth. Which is not something you could say about most of the “issues” we had to sit through during the Greece sojourn.
You’re barely in this episode, bub. Pipe down.
The A-Plot: Okay, but let’s not ignore Malibu Man Cave for a sec. Like, what happened to Malibu Man Cave? At the end of the premiere, when Bruce went home for dinner after Kris got uptight about his cookies getting stale (which, if that isn’t a metaphor for how Kris feels about Bruce in general, I dunno what is) I didn’t get the impression that Bruce stopped renting or leasing the house or whatever. He just…went home for dinner. I mean, we can assume that’s what happened, since we haven’t seen Malibu Man Cave—or even heard about it, at least until Bruce told Brody that he only lasted there for a week while they we jawing about Kris in Greece—all season, but the show probably should have made that clearer, especially if now, all of the sudden, we’re supposed to feel bad for Bruce again because Kim and her family are moving in and he’s back to merely having his “corner in the garage.” I mean, sure: said corner is currently being used to house Kim’s clothing and what I assume are boxes of Special Guest Star Kanye West’s Grammys and gold records and old journals filled with discarded “ideas” for the “Runaway” video, which Special Guest Star Kanye West is probably giddy right now that Jay-Z released "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film" because now Jay-Z finally looks more pretentious than he does. But even so: I thought Bruce had Malibu Man Cave, so I wasn’t prepared to be sad about Bruce again.
But then there’s the interesting part of this plot, which is a real issue that they aren’t just going to be able to redundantly solve with more money. The setup here is that Brody and Brandon, having gotten tacit approval from all siblings and step-siblings, plus Bruce, for the putting green, want to get Kris away from the Jenner compound for a spell so they can install it. They achieve this first by gathering all of their siblings together (including Burt!!!) (…but no Casey) and hatching a plan where Kim will invite Kris to go to Paris with her after a business trip in New York, allowing the rest of the Kardashian/Jenner brood a full week to putt the Jenner compound up.
Brody: This is going to rock!
Bruce: DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING SO THAT I CAN CLAIM PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY TO KRIS BUT ALSO HOLD ON AND LET ME DRAW YOU SOME DIAGRAMS SO YOU DON’T FUCK MY PUTTING GREEN UP!
Bruce proceeds to explain exactly what he wants, which is less a putting green and more a full-service country club practice range with a putting green, a chipping green, a sand trap, and possibly a full driving range. I dunno. I dozed off during his whole thing because: golf.
This is the first moment where it’s clear that Bruce is in the wrong. The issue isn’t that Kris isn’t controlling, or that Bruce shouldn’t have a putting green; the issue is a) that Bruce wants this ginormous thing just for himself in the middle of the backyard even though he knows Kris doesn’t and b) that while he himself doesn’t really criticize Kris neither does he enthusiastically defend her as his sons talk about how much he deserves this because he’s too easy-going and willing to let Kris have her way. Which…they may be right, broadly speaking, I guess—though “easy-going,” which Bruce calls himself several points, is probably not an adjective I’d use about Bruce Jenner—but in precise terms Bruce has more than enough money to go golfing wherever and whenever he wants, so…deserves got nothing to do with it.
What’s happening is a thing we see a lot on this show, where Bruce essentially lets his sons and daughters and stepsons and stepdaughters have their vision of Kris, which is to say that he allows them to perceive him as the subordinate in the relationship and her as the alpha—excepting cases of guns and competition, where he claims superiority—and he fosters that idea by exploiting the fact that Kris is controlling and all of her children know what it’s like to rock Kris’s boat. He’s right, and they’re right, because rocking Kris’s boat is a chore, but what he’s leaving out is a) all the times he isn’t “easy-going Bruce” that maybe they don’t see and b) all the ways that he enjoys letting Kris run his life. Because we see that all the time, too: Bruce loves that Kris is a take-charge person, and he’s happy to let her do her thing because his cookies stay fresh. He doesn’t want to lose that; he just chafes under her rules occasionally. What he does, then, is rebel a little by poking fun at those rules, which is to say that Bruce Jenner is thriving both because he lets Kris run his life and because he lets everybody else see him as a martyr for letting her do that. The problem is that his wife is a real person, so he can’t have it both ways. At least not so brazenly, as he is here, which is him essentially directing his sons to build him a golf course while simultaneously shirking all responsibility for doing so by raising the specter of Kris’s wrath to let himself of the hook.
What’s awesome, of course, is that this is the exact argument that Kris drops on Bruce. See, Bruce calls the installation off when Kris rents a beach house for him (more on that in the C-Plot), but Kris still returns home in time to discover her yard in a state somewhere between “attempted installation of a putting green” and “hide all evidence of said attempted installation.” Kris is livid to find his kids and her kids standing around looking uncomfortable, but she’s livid less because they tried to build a golf course in her back yard (that’s just money) than she is because this whole thing is precisely about what a control freak they all think she is, and how each and every one of them is stating that in a very public way, and how they’re all saying it as if she’s some bitter harpy who has emasculated Bruce Jenner, American Hero, to the point where he can't even beat his son at ping pong anymore, because she won’t let him dig up a corner of the backyard for an ugly thing he doesn’t need because California isn’t exactly short on country clubs.
The telling line is when she tells Bruce that he hasn’t just convinced his kids that he’s the victim, but her kids too; she’s pinpointing Bruce’s willing complacence on both ends; she’s super-aware of how his actions (or inaction) turn her into the villain of this family. It’s kind of awesome because self-aware arguments aren’t really this show’s bread and butter, but here’s Kris Kardashian admitting she’s a control freak, which is her primary character flaw, and making us all feel bad about it because everybody in her family uses that against her to cut her off at the knees. Her husband’s doing it right now, all while waving his hands in the air and being all, “I’m just easy-going Bruce.”
Anyways, Bruce kind of apologizes, Brody hugs her, and Kris gets new sod in her backyard, and nobody will get to put divots in her happy family again. Until next episode, probably.
The B-Plot: Back in season 4, episode 9 (“I Want Your Sex”), Khloé Kardashian made a sexy tape for Recurring Guest Star Lamar Odom where she appeared in a bathtub filled with candy. It was silly. Back in season 8, episode 8 ("Greece Is The Word"), Recurring Guest Star Lamar Odom revealed that he had found said video on a porn site. Back in the present, Khloé Kardashian’s plan to do a sexy photo shoot for her husband keeps getting ruined as her friends and siblings keep cracking jokes about the whole candy bath thing.
That’s literally 85% of the story, here.
Anyways, Khloé almost decides that she doesn’t want the photo shoot to happen at all until her assistant reminds her that even though Kardashians are rich and prone to flights of fancy the people they hire aren’t necessarily rich and it annoys them when their paychecks are threatened because Kardashians can’t get over past candy baths that, y’know, aired on episodes of this show, so they really can’t have been that embarrassing. So she does it anyways, kind of sulkily:
Cue her soundtrack:
Still, the photos turn out pretty well, and Recurring Guest Star Lamar Odom thinks they’re a fine anniversary present, completing another 10% of the story, here.
The other 5% is not mentioned, which is of course that this particular marriage is presently subject to rumors about Recurring Guest Star Lamar Odom’s infidelity, which is why even though Recurring Guest Star Lamar Odom isn’t really a character on this show we have to keep watching half-drawn stories about how great this marriage is.
Well, that’s actually only 4%. The final 1% is that Khloé Kardashian is wrong: she doesn’t “look like Missy Elliott in that video.”
Missy Elliott: Nope. I’m Supa Dupa Fly. She’s barely “fly-ish.”
The C-Plot: We already know Bruce is exasperated with all of the stuff happening to his house to accommodate Kim, Special Guest Star Kanye West, and North, but so are Kendall and Kylie, as it turns out. This is because Kris, who is stage managing this shit like her family members are employees, keeps telling everybody about all the stuff they won’t be allowed to do anymore because of the baby.
I’m going to ignore the obvious “whatever” here about why Kim is installing her brood into the Jenner compound in the first place, even if Kris is fanatically sure that this is where they need to be, because whatever. It doesn’t make much sense as the show has presented it, especially if the solution is for Kris to buy yet another house for her husband and teenage daughters, but I just can’t with Kardashian real estate nonsensical-ness anymore so instead let’s just focus on the actual story.
It starts with Kendall going house hunting because she feels claustrophobic (and probably a little miffed that money-maker Kim seems to get whatever she wants). Later, she tells Kris that she wants to move out for the summer.
Kendall: I’m an adult now, mom! And I know you’re reasonable, despite the fact that the A-Plot of this very episode is all about how everybody in this family thinks you’re notoriously unreasonable.
It’s how she tells her mother this news that is awesome, because it’s exactly how 17-year-olds sometimes operate, which is to emphasize all the responsible planning and considerate emotions they’ve put into whatever self-serving objective they want to achieve but can’t without the express permission (or capital) of their parents. The way Kendall explains this Living On Her Own thing is precisely how I used to explain Weekend Concert Festivals In Other Countries to my parents when I was in high school. She wants to take the worry out of the equation for Kris by just getting the place herself; no longer will Kris need to worry that her second youngest daughter’s style is cramped by her second eldest daughter’s entire family being just everywhere all the time. Kris won’t need to worry that Special Guest Star Kanye West isn’t gonna let Kendall finish her Corn Flakes because Capn’ Crunch is the best cereal or whatever. Kendall will just be happy and safe and most importantly beyond worry because she is being so responsible and adult about all of this.
Kris laughs, although she keeps her cool enough to commend Kendall’s thoughtfulness, before crushing Kendall’s dreams. But with Kendall, Kylie, and Bruce all whining (Kylie eats her lunch in her car, and I’m not even going to point out that if a 15-year-old has a car to go eat lunch in that’s ludicrous, but I will note: do NONE of these people have private bedrooms?), Kris realizes that her dictatorial decision about Kim moving in may have been made without fully thinking things through. Consequently, Kris decides that she can ship off her husband and their two daughters to a new Malibu Beach House.
So, later, Kylie and Kendall surprise Bruce with their new summer home, Bruce feels guilty about the whole putting green thing and puts the kibosh on it, and presumably Bruce spends the rest of the summer flying his weird little helicopters around the beach in complete bliss.
I mean, it’s not a dick-shaped putting green, but I guess it’s something, right?