Have you ever seen a fish try to fly like a bird, or a bird attempt to slither like a snake, or Tom Brady pretend to act like a normal human man? Whenever one makes the effort to upend the natural order of the world, it’s worth watching for the spectacle alone. To that point: Kim Kardashian West’s hidden-camera prank show, You Kiddin’ Me?!, debuted this week on Facebook’s new original content streaming offering, Facebook Watch. The show combines the most horrifying aspects of contemporary culture (Facebook, surveillance-as-entertainment, when hot people try to be funny) into one singularly puzzling piece of digital content, a prank show in which nobody involved understands what a prank is.
YOU KIDDIN' ME!?
Some of the biggest celebrities are about to be pranked by their own families in this outrageously funny new prank show brought to you by Executive Producer Kim Kardashian West! Follow You Kiddin’ Me for episodes and updates and check out the premiere on 9/22, only on Facebook Watch.Posted by You Kiddin’ Me on Monday, September 17, 2018
The basic premise: During each 15-minute episode, good-natured celebrities voluntarily perform stunts orchestrated by their children. (The show’s title is a play on words, you see.) In the first episode, adult children Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, and Kim Kardashian West egg their mother, Kris Jenner, into bad behavior. She creeps out her support staff as a joke, and then shows a room full of art-world types paintings she allegedly made.
The Kardashians are great at a variety of things, from marketing cosmetics and apps to having sexy bodies. Kris Jenner is a gale-force fame tornado who can get shit done, Kim Kardashian West’s vocal advocacy for prison reform is, plain and simple, admirable. Plus, their kids are adorable. I am on the record as a Kardashian Sympathizer. But it pains me to note that one thing the Calabasas glamor clan is decidedly not good at is zany humor.
You Kiddin’ Me?! is fundamentally confused about how pranks work. Kim, Kendall, and Kourtney insist that they are pranking Kris by feeding her lines through an earpiece and convincing her to behave erratically in front of strangers. They appear not to realize that they are, in reality, pranking the service workers, assistants, and random passersby who have to deal with a very famous woman’s very antisocial behavior. Instead, the show assumes its audience will agree that it’s a prank on Kris Jenner to goad her into making people who are paid to accommodate her feel flustered.
Two notably uncomfortable examples: First, Kris is made to tell a makeup artist that she is an alcoholic. Second, Kris tells an assistant in an art gallery that the art is “making me horny.” Now, in all likelihood, these people knew that they were appearing on a prank show from the beginning, but on the off chance that they did not know, what happened to them was less a prank than it was unfair workplace behavior. (Really, it’s unfortunate that women so dialed in to what makes a great derriere are so totally oblivious to who the butt of a joke is.) I will admit that I laughed out loud, once, when Kendall used a burp machine to make it sound like Kris was burping loudly during a speech. It was very stupid and pretty funny, and glaringly distinct from the rest of the show.
Every era gets the Punk’d it deserves, and we are living through a spectacularly dumb and cruel moment. There’s something fitting about how Facebook, notorious for flooding the internet with viral garbage, debuted an accidental, weirdly cruel anti-comedy in its push for original content. You Kiddin’ Me?! isn’t funny. Instead, it’s so strangely off-putting that if you told me that Nathan Fielder had secretly masterminded the project as a statement on contemporary life, I wouldn’t necessarily think you were joking.