'KEEPING': Khlo, left, married a Laker. Kourtney, right, is… (E! Networks )
Kim Kardashian screams on tonight's season premiere of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" (E!, 10 o'clock), and can you blame her? Her sister Khloé just got married, her sister Kourtney is pregnant, and she's beginning to feel underappreciated.
"You guys make me feel like I'm the one that has to get married and have a baby," she shouts at the family, give or take a curse word for emphasis.
But that's misleading. In fact, she's given birth to a monster: a fame-obsessed clan sucking up every available inch of limelight. Kim is an enabler, and as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" begins its fourth season, she's coming undone.
More shouting: "Can't we get rid of this wedding cake already? It's been here for a week!" Again, with a curse word for emphasis.
Kim, as ever, is ravishing, the unavoidable focus of visual attention on this show. But though she's been the conduit to celebrity for Kourtney and Khloé, who are essentially empty-vessel strivers, now, in some ways, they've usurped her -- the tabloid covers are theirs, not hers. The inmates have taken over the asylum.
It's hard to see Khloé's marriage (to Laker Lamar Odom) and Kourtney's pregnancy (with her on-and-off boyfriend Scott Disick) as anything other than passive-aggressive maneuvers against the alpha-ness of Kim. Earlier this year, they were the anchors of their own reality show on E!, "Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami," their metaphorical jailbreak toward individual celebrity. And yet here they are, back in Calabasas, straining toward domesticity.
Meanwhile, Kim's relationship with football star Reggie Bush is kaput, and she's moping, frowning through a photo shoot for her fragrance. "I just really don't care about my career anymore," she says with a sigh. "I feel like it's cost me my relationship."
Having emotionally gifted parents would be a boon here, for all the sisters, but mother Kris and stepfather Bruce Jenner remain as inscrutable as ever. Kris encourages Khloé to use sex to get Odom to purchase the house she wants and also opens the wedding gifts she's supposed to be the custodian of. Bruce's hair still appears as if he's caught in a windstorm, which in effect he is. That he still has a career giving motivational speeches is a shock, giving his persistent impotence on this show.
The Disick-Odom contrast provides the subtext of what will likely be this season's real tension, between Kourtney and Khloé.
Odom from the premiere appears to be sensible -- he's a multimillionaire basketball player, he largely avoids the cameras when they're around and he successfully talks Khloé out of her interest in a too-expensive home. "It's our love that makes the house, not our house that makes the love," Khloé says, and she might even mean it.
Disick, meanwhile, is portrayed as an ungrateful layabout, barely capable of feeding himself. In his preppy gear -- in one scene tonight, a mauve polo shirt, slim shorts and loafers -- and slicked-back hair, he appears to be auditioning for a regional theater production of "American Psycho." "Is this your wedding footage?" he asks Khloé. "Didn't you just live this? Do we need to watch it already?" (Ungrateful though not wholly unreasonable, as these things go.)
When the family joins Kourtney at the doctor's office to learn the sex of the baby -- a boy, thankfully, given this family's dynamics -- Khloé opts out. During a game of charades, she acts out the phrase "deadbeat dad," pointing at Disick. And at the end of the episode, she expresses her feelings for Disick with an open palm, hard to his cheek.
Throughout, when she's not burdened by her romantic misfortune, Kim looks on beatifically, the most sensible one of the bunch. Maybe she knows something we don't: With all this madness unfolding around her, she's beginning to look less like a victim and more like a conscientious objector.