I might be in a twelve-person minority, but I’ve been watching Rob & Chyna. I don’t know why, I think I hate it. I don’t know what’s the worst: the blurred/pop art-y effect on transitions or the fact that it’s Rob. It might be the latter. Maybe if the show was just Chyna. It would be better. Or, best option: you drop both, and it’s just a sitcom with King Cairo and Nanny Joy. And occasional appearances from that hot guy who always hangs out with Chyna (is he, like, her trainer?) and Chyna’s mother, Tokyo Toni. Omg, I just realized that it’s “Chyna” and “Tokyo.” Appropriation?
As a long time KUWTK watcher, I’ve witnessed the evolution of Rob. Remember when he was a model? Remember when he was dating a Cheetah girl? Remember when he had a better ass than Kim?
We saw his steady decline into depression as he gained more and more weight, until he became a recluse in Khloe’s house for the last three years. Then, through the grapevine, we hear that he started dating Blac Chyna, and he slowly-slowly-slowly starts making appearances on KUWTK.
I really wanted to like Rob, but he’s become such a reprehensible, two-dimensional character that it’s almost impossible. I try to rationalize it as depression-based, but I feel like I’m allowed to say this: Being depressed is not an excuse for being a shitty guy. I have depression and anxiety, but you just buck up. It sucks and it’s hard, but Rob’s actions should not be excused by his illnesses.
I’m talking about, of course, his most recent actions: leaking Kylie’s private phone number on Twitter. He hasn’t taken it down, and she’s probably since changed her number, but the ugliness is burned into the brain of pop culture.
The incident: Apparently Rob was pissed that his sisters were throwing two separate baby showers—he and Chyna apparently haven’t spoken in months—and they didn’t invite Chyna to his shower. Btw, she knew about the separate showers and thus probably knew that she wasn’t going to his. But Rob, the kween of overreacting, decided to go ahead and publish Kylie’s phone number.
In a weird way, it’s a perverse parallel of Kim exposing Taylor via SnapChat. Both come after perceived wrongdoing, both were attempts at exposure and humiliation. But Kim’s retaliation was supported by a backbone of righteous retribution: Taylor was lying, and it was affecting Kim’s husband and her own reputation. Rob’s reeks of pettiness, in a way that the Kardashian-Jenners never show publicly. Maybe they are petty, but their images are so carefully cultivated that that slips through.
On Rob & Chyna, Rob plays so flatly, a depressed guy so clearly uncomfortable in his skin, so unenthused with having a child, so unenthused with everything. He’s so obviously putting on this act, dropping his cut-glass Calabasas accent and talking like he didn’t graduate high school. Rob, you might not have gone to college, but you’re from Hidden Hills, California—stop talking like that. Use proper grammar. He just wants to fit in, and it makes me want to hit him.
In literature, there’s this device that’s employed called “pathos.” It’s the word from which “pathetic” is derived. Pathos invokes a strong emotion, usually sympathy. And that’s what Rob is to me—pathetic. He pulls this twisted emotion out of me, revulsion coiled around aching sympathy, strung through with lip-sneering annoyance. He’s pathetic, and I want to be empathetic, but what he’s doing is so shady and petty and small that it’s nearly impossible.
From a literature sense, the “character” of Rob is deeply fascinating. The only boy; the heir. More sensitive than all his sisters, and falling susceptible to the fame. Trying to claw his way back to that golden place, the elusive upper echelon where his sisters reside. Getting a warped version of what he wanted: notoriety instead of fame, money instead of happiness. Lashing out in a cry for attention. Helpless. Hopeless.
And if this were literature, I would hope for a redemption arc. I would hope that Rob is salvageable, that this anger that seems to be burning a hole through his skin can be quelled. Because otherwise, he’ll blow up like a social media supernova.
Depression can’t be cured by any amount of money. It takes time and sympathy and therapy and work. But as Tokyo Toni pointed out in the Fourth of July episode of Rob & Chyna, they don’t have some of the issues that most people struggle with. They have plenty of money; they are in stable homes. They [Rob and Chyna] have issues that are possible to overcome.
At a certain point, to get better, you have to make the active choice to seek it out. And if that moment won’t be rapidly arriving with the birth of their baby, I don’t know what will.