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The Profound Silence of Kendall Jenner




arlier this week, E! News announced that a new limited series, “Life of Kylie,” would début this summer on the E! network. A spinoff of the reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the eight-episode series will focus on the youngest sibling in the Kardashian-Jenner family, the makeup entrepreneur Kylie Jenner. “The 19-year-old mogul will be opening up the doors of her exclusive domain and giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her extraordinary life,” E! online reported. “Kylie” is the latest in a long line of “K.U.W.T.K.” offshoots, which has included smartphone apps and Games, clothing brands, perfumes, Instagram sponsorships, paid night-club appearances, and even novels. This whole universe of products orbits around the original show, which, since 2007, has documented the lives of the Kardashian-Jenners: the so-called “momager” Kris Jenner, who was married to the late lawyer and O. J. Simpson confidant Robert Kardashian; her children with Kardashian, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob; her now-ex-spouse, the Olympian and motivational speaker Caitlyn Jenner (who, before her recent transition, went by Bruce); and their two daughters, Kendall and Kylie. With hardworking professionalism, a canniness that has often tipped into a kind of genius, remarkable psychological resilience, and a willingness to share almost any facet of their lives, the Kardashian-Jenners have become the First Family of American reality TV, and emblems of the present-day Zeitgeist.

Kardashian Kremlinologists will not be surprised that it is Kylie, rather than her older sister Kendall, whose inner sanctum we will soon be allowed to glimpse. Kendall might have had her first high-profile public relations-crisis last week—a Pepsi ad she appeared in drew immediate derision from critics for its inept co-option of protest culture, and was pulled less than twenty-four hours after its release—but the Kardashian-Jenner family’s second-youngest member has, until recently, maintained a curious remove from the earthy theatrics of her kin. This, paradoxically, has made her more interesting to watch.

Kendall and Kylie started out on “K.U.W.T.K.,” at ages eleven and ten, respectively. They spent the brief pre-Sєxualized haven of their early teen years supplying lighthearted, slapsticky shenanigans meant to contrast with their older siblings’ more consistently dramatic story lines. (On a rerun of an early episode that I caught recently on a plane, the B-plot centered on the youngest sisters accidentally staining Kris’s expensive rug with pasta sauce and attempting to scrub it—in the style of the high jinks on “I Love Lucy”—with an unwieldy rented steam cleaner.) In recent years, however, the ever-more-robust personal brands of the two sisters have diverged, as if providing two models for how Celebrity might be endured. Kylie’s entrée into young womanhood has entailed high-stakes conflict and conjecture, taken on with the voluptuous élan of a social-media Vargas girl. Explosive of curves and pillowy of lips, she has been precociously dating the rapper Tyga, whose son’s mother, Blac Chyna, in a Greek-tragedy-in-the-San Fernando Valley twist, recently gave birth to a daughter