Kendra on Top premiere highlights huge problems in Kendra & Hank's marriage
After a volatile and incredibly intense last season of Kendra on Top, Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett are back for Season 4 — but the premiere suggests the struggle isn't over for this beleaguered Hollywood couple.
The first episode of the season starts with Kendra and Hank in the car, presumably headed back home after their (also intense) stint on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars. They both seem anxious to get back into some sort of routine after "the worst year" of their lives.
A brief but dizzying recap reminds us of everything they went through — Hank's highly publicized alleged affair with a transgender model, the ensuing fallout when Kendra found out and the moment when Hank "decided to tell [Kendra] and the world the truth" during Marriage Boot Camp.
Clearly, their marriage is still a work in progress.
Honestly, I've been looking forward to this season to see how the couple will cope and readjust now that the fervor surrounding Hank's scandal has died down a bit. Despite all of their struggles, I feel as though Kendra has been incredibly strong. But in the absence of all of the static, would she be able to maintain that toughness? Can their marriage really come out on the other side of this unscathed?
I'm going to go ahead and call it now: The answer to that question is no. At the onset, we see that even Kendra's psychiatrist has serious concerns for the couple's union. "There were some things that were very concerning," the counselor says. "A lot has transpired."
Red flag No. 1: Intimacy issues
Here's where the first red flag comes into play. When discussing their sex life now, Kendra comments that she and Hank have sex twice a week and she is satisfied with that. As for Hank, she doesn't know how he feels because he doesn't know how to talk to her about that stuff.
Which, you know, was a huge point of contention in their marriage pre-scandal. My hope here is that the psychiatrist helps Kendra and Hank find a way to effectively communicate with each other, lest they fall back into an unhealthy pattern.
Red flag No. 2: Time apart
The premiere has barely begun when we learn Kendra is headed to the UK for various press appearances. That in and of itself doesn't have to be problematic — sure, spending time together would have been nice, but Kendra has a point in that they have to work to support their lifestyle. I can't imagine Calabasas comes cheap.
Kendra on Top's executive producer (EP) explains, "Just as she was getting out of Boot Camp, Kendra got the offer to do the UK version of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here in Australia. Her agents informed her that if she did the show, there would be many opportunities for her, particularly in the UK. So Hank was aware that Kendra would probably be away from home for the better part of two months."
Red flag No. 3: Repressed feelings
Having said that, the conversation surrounding the trip is troubling. Kendra tells the camera that she feels like now it is her turn to deal with her problems, saying to Hank, "I just don't think it's fair — I was able to stick it out with you, now I need you to stick it out with me." Only, I don't think dealing with relationship problems is sequential... it's overlapping and ongoing. Her logic could definitely lead to tension and repressed feelings down the road.
Ultimately, says the show EP, "It put a strain on their relationship and the healing process, but both agreed it was in the financial interest of the family for her to take advantage of the opportunities."
Red flag No. 4: Unresolved doubts
Upon arrival, Kendra is escorted to a swanky S&M-inspired suite at a boutique hotel. She calls Hank to catch up, but he seems somehow disconnected from the conversation. Kendra tells the camera she loves being a mom and never questions that part of her life, but she does sometimes question her marriage to Hank, wondering, "Am I cut out for this?"
Red flag No. 5: Flirting with disaster
On the one hand, it's great to see Kendra trying to get back to her old self. She deserves to be her happy, bubbly self again! And it's nice she had a friend — her I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here costar, Jimmy Bollard — to reconnect with while on the trip. It's the way that she talks about Jimmy that gives pause. "I love Jimmy, and I do want to kiss him," she says. "Being with Jimmy and, like, having fun with him and flirting, inside of me it just does something. It feels good. I guess it's wrong, but maybe that's why it feels so right."
Red flag No. 6: An emotional (and more) hangover
After a wild night out with Jimmy, friends and fans, Kendra has seen better days. She is awoken that morning to a call from Gemma Wheatley, the popular UK publicist she's working with during her travels. Gemma informs her that, in the morning post, pictures of Kendra and Jimmy "look like you're full-on snogging." Impressively, Kendra makes it through an entire day of press appearances afterwards.
Red flag No. 7: Strained connections
The long day of press appearances wiped Kendra out (understandably), so she ended the evening with a long bath. As she is getting out, Hank calls. At first, he comes off as nonchalant, but he quickly segues into her night at the pub. Kendra tries to explain that she doesn't remember kissing Jimmy — and doesn't think she did — but Hank is livid at her response, calling it a double standard before hanging up. Obviously, the scars from the cheating scandal are still very raw and need to be addressed before things get toxic.
Or, rather, more toxic: "In contrast to all the fun Kendra is having in London, what audiences haven't seen yet is the intense emotional strain that Kendra's trip puts on her marriage," says the show EP, "particularly when confronted with Hank's outburst of anger."
Red flag No. 8: External pressures
Being a celebrity couple — and especially one recovering from a scandal — can't be easy. And, in addition to constant scrutiny, Kendra and Hank are dealing with other external pressures that could add strain to their marriage. "Shortly before she left for London, Kendra found out her father was in Singapore about to go into surgery to help his neck. There was serious talk of Kendra scrapping her trip in order to be at his side. Luckily, the surgery was a success and Eric assured her there was no reason to cancel her appearances in the UK to be by his side," said the EP.
While I'm happy Eric is OK, I feel certain family issues will come up at some point this season. Read: Kendra's mom has a special knack for creating problems, even where there are none.