The Kardashians have become one of America’s craziest families in the time since their reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2007-), premiered almost a decade ago. We’ve grown up with Kendall and Kylie Jenner, watched Kim Kardashian get married (and divorced), and been there when Kourtney Kardashian gave birth to her first child. The family has made a living off of their E! television series. Viewers come back week after week to see what new shenanigans they’ll get into. But while watching episodes of their show, you can’t help but wonder, is the show real at all?
What many reality TV shows don’t want you to believe is that there are aspects of their shows that are scripted. Even if drawn from sponteneous occurrences, reality TV still involves framing an episode or season around a narrative that makes the show interesting to watch. There is, almost always, an A story, B story, and C story (the A story being the main one) in the episodes of a reality show like Keeping Up with the Kardashians. In episodes of the E! staple, the storylines have revolved around anything from celebrating Kris Jenner’s birthday to Khloe Kardashian being overworked.
An article by Mariah Smith for Jezebel highlights the continuity errors from Season 11, Episode 11, "The Great Kris." The episode focuses on planning Kris’ birthday party (A story), Kim’s birthday party (B story), and Khloe’s ex-husband Lamar Odom’s overdose (C story). The episode, like others before it, uses editing to group events into a story structure that may not have mirrored the true order of occurrences. The show makes it seem like all included scenes are concurrent events, which is not always the case. In "The Great Kris," when Kris’ boyfriend, Corey Gamble, gives her a car, the present is presumably for Kris' birthday. However, the scene was filmed in August. The other events in the episode were either filmed in late September or October, while Kris’ birthday is in November. The scene was included in this episode specifically because it fits the narrative of Kris’ supposed upcoming birthday. No one knows whether his gift to her was scripted; that could have been a genuine gesture. The more likely story is that producers wanted the scene to enhance the storyline and fit the narrative of the episode.
The scripted aspects of Keeping Up with the Kardashians were also brought to light in an article by Chantal Waldholz in Life & Style. During the contentious divorce of Kim from her husband Kris Humphries, which was captured on the television show, it was revealed that some of the moments that were once thought to be spontaneous and natural were the opposite. In a deposition taken during the divorce proceedings by a producer for the show, Russell Jay, it was exposed that there were post-divorce scenes that were scripted and the proposal scene was reshot. There is even photographic evidence that may prove these claims to be true.
As discussed on Reality Tea, Kim and her mother were photographed leaving a studio on December 6th, suspiciously wearing the same outfits they were wearing in Dubai in October.
Above image publiished on RealityTea.com
As you can see in this image, Kim’s look mirrors the one she sported in previous Dubai set scenes. Kris is seen outside the studio as well, with an assistant close behind her holding the exact dress she wore months ago. This very well could be so that they could stage the scene to look as though it was shot months ago in Dubai, before the divorce was even official. Including the scene shows the viewers that Kim's and Kris' marriage woes could have started before they separated. It also makes Kim seem more sympathetic by emphasizing that Kim was experiencing distress during the marriage, which is crucial for keeping the audience on the Kardashians’ side. This might be the most obvious case of the Kardashians trying to script certain scenes in order to frame their own narrative. Yet that doesn’t mean that what Kim was saying was false. Even in a contrived setting, she could have been sharing how she truly felt about the situation.
So, are some aspects of the show staged? Most signs point to that being the case. That’s just how reality TV works, structure-wise. Is the actual content Keeping Up with the Kardashians authentic? Well, we should take their life events for what they are: their reality. It would be silly to consider that Khloe may have only married Lamar for the show or that Kourtney and Scott broke up to create a storyline for the season. What happens on the show, what happens in their actual lives, is based in reality. That reality may be scripted in a way that adheres to the reality TV format, but it is still the Kardashians' own glamorous, must-watch reality.