The Untold Truth Of Keeping Up With The Kardashians

"Keeping Up With The Kardashians" first aired in 2007, and it completely changed the landscape of reality television. The Kardashian and Jenner clan quickly acquired a massive global fan base that continued to expand. It wasn't long before the family turned their real-life experiences into an entertainment empire worth an estimated $2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

However, in spite of being classified as a reality television show, fans wonder just how real some of the KarJenners' dramatic moments actually were. Interesting details have emerged, suggesting that certain situations were very different when the cameras weren't rolling. Even though their flagship E! series ended in 2021, the wealthy family was soon gearing up for a new opportunity on Hulu. With "The Kardashians" in full swing, we're looking back on the show that first brought them into our homes.

This is the untold truth of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

The show has ambiguous roots

It became hard to establish who created "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" after both Kris Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner took credit for the show's origins. During an August 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kris Jenner and Ryan Seacrest gave Kris full credit for developing the hit series. "One night, Deena Katz [casting director for 'Dancing With the Stars'] came over for dinner and life was swirling around, and she said, 'This is a reality show — I think you should really talk to Ryan.' So I did," Kris said. Seacrest, who had been on the lookout for a show like "The Osbournes," chimed in to recall: "Kris told me what she envisioned, and I said, 'Let's send a crew to your house and tape some stuff and then we'll take a look at it.'" A development executive filmed the family and shared his excitement with Seacrest. 

Caitlyn Jenner has a very different perspective and believes she spearheaded the concept. Within Caitlyn's memoir, "The Secrets of My Life," she takes a swipe at Kris Jenner by declaring she was the mastermind behind the show. "The house is awash in puberty and adolescence and young adulthood and two parents with very different styles, it seems to me something is there for television," Caitlyn wrote. She continued, "Kris says she is the one who came up with the idea and decided to actively pitch it to Ryan Seacrest..." We may never know who actually had the idea first.

Kim Kardashian has a heavy hand in production

The entire family benefits from the success of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," but Kim Kardashian has admitted to getting heavily involved and doing some pretty sketchy things to ensure the show continues to pique the interest of her fans. In fact, she openly confessed to meddling in the private lives of her sisters for the sake of snagging some juicy footage for the cameras.

"I'm very aware of what fans want to see," Kim said to The Hollywood Reporter during an August 2017 interview. "I think if you ask the crew, I probably produce the most, because I know what my sisters might not be sharing. So I'll tell them, 'Go over to Kourt's house right now. Something is going on,'" said Kim. It appears that Kim organizes a significant portion of the show behind the scenes by leaking information about her own personal details to the press. A clip from Season 17 of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" revealed a discussion between Khloé Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, and Scott Disick. Disick asked Kim how the media discovered that she was using a surrogate to expand her family. "So... I got drunk on Christmas Eve and I told someone at Christmas Eve and I don't remember who I told 'cause I was drunk," she said. 

However, Kim told Andy Cohen at the 2021 "KUWTK" reunion that she would not call the paparazzi when she went out. She just knew where they were located and could conveniently stop by while running around L.A. (via The Sun).

The outside view of their home wasn't always their actual house

The opening credits of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" feature a stunning view of the family's gorgeous, sprawling estate, and fans were shocked to discover that it wasn't an image of a Kardashian residence at all. Kim Kardashian opened up with her fans during a Mobio Insider chat to discuss the reason her family featured a fake exterior residence on their show. She stated, "My old home in Beverly Hills was really my home and I would get people showing up at all hours ringing my gate and had to call the police on several occasions" (via Us Weekly). Kim continued, "People hopping the gate and scaring me. It was so unsafe. The Hollywood star tours would stop by too, because they recognized my home from our show."

TMZ reported in 2014 that the fake residential footage belonged to a home that was for sale. The outlet noted, "It's a pretty common trick in Hollywood," but went on to say this trick is usually used for TV shows filmed indoors at studios, rather than for reality shows. TMZ also confirmed that the now infamous fake Kardashian residence was also used for exterior footage on "Chuck," "True Blood," "Entourage," and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

Filming was incredibly unpleasant for Kourtney Kardashian

It's really easy for fans to get caught up in the glitz and glamor of the Kardashian lifestyle, and even with the stunning designer outfits and the VIP parties the Kardashian family members get to enjoy, things aren't always as happy as they seem.

Kourtney Kardashian stunned fans when she opened up about how difficult the earlier days of filming really were for her. She told The Hollywood Reporter just how challenging it was to have her personal life exposed at such a young age. "I remember in Season 1 being like, 'I have to go the bathroom,' and I'd cry in there as quietly as I could because I was still mic'd. I never want to cry in front of cameras," Kourtney explained. Kris recalled that prior to filming, "The only person I got any resistance from was Kourtney. She was sort of skeptical." 

Kourtney's hesitation to be in front of the cameras wasn't isolated to the earlier days of filming. During Season 20, Episode 7 of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," Kourtney's confessional shed light on her ongoing struggles with fame. "I've definitely had my moments when I wasn't fully comfortable with filming and then there's so many exciting moments like where we've had the best times and great family trips and so many experiences that we wouldn't have had if we weren't filming. I think it's been a love-hate relationship," she said (via ET Canada).

Caitlyn Jenner's transition was edited

The entire premise behind reality TV is to give fans a glimpse into the lives of the featured stars, as their stories unfold. "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" let fans into the inner workings of the Kardashian-Jenner family, so they must have felt like cameras were constantly recording them in their homes. In fact, Kris Jenner told The New York Times in 2015 that the family filmed for at least 10 to 12 hours a day. 

As expected with reality TV, some moments were edited prior to airing. Kardashian appeared on the "Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham" podcast in 2018, during which time Graham asked Kardashian about her involvement in the editing that went into storylines. Kardashian responded, "I'm not in the actual editing room, but I watch every cut and every edit. And that, I think, has always been the magic to being ourselves and showing everything because we know that we could really have a say in editing." She added, "We've never, like, really edited out crazy content."

The SKIMS co-founder opened up about one particular moment that was edited — when Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender. Kardashian's justification for the heavily edited episode was the emotional nature of the conversation, and the sensitive reactions of the family. "The most difficult thing [to film] was probably Caitlyn's transition and just seeing my mom and Khloé having such a hard time. We never really edited content before, but we did edit a bit of Khloé's reaction just because she was so upset," Kim Kardashian told The Hollywood Reporter.

Inside the KarJenners' pandemic filming routine

It seems that nothing can come between the Kardashian family and their reality television show — not even a global pandemic. When the coronavirus began to spread and the world came to a grinding halt, the Kardashians refused to call it quits on the show, and opted to pivot in their very own way, according to a report published by Elle in May 2020. Farnaz Farjam, the show's executive producer, shed light on the extreme measures taken by the family to continue filming safely during these precarious times.

Farjam expressed that pandemic filming was "a big to-do." A technician and a photography director wore hazmat suits to enter the homes and set up tripods in makeshift confessional spaces. Each KarJenner essentially filmed their own footage for the show. Farjam told Elle that a masked showrunner would deliver brand new iPhones to the family's security detail weekly, trading them for phones that had captured the latest footage. The producer admitted, "It's less fly-on-the-wall..." Yet she believed the family would be just as entertaining.

In a piece for The Atlantic, journalist Spencer Kornhaber argued that the Kardashians' DIY quarantine filming was not a complete reflection of their pandemic lives. Kim and friends flew to a private island for her birthday; Kendall hosted a Halloween party and packed her pals into a West Hollywood bar. "Unsurprisingly, the current season of 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' portrays the Calabasas clan as huddling from and subdued by the coronavirus pandemic. But their pandemic partying shows the truth about Kardashian culture's sway, and its limits," Kornhaber wrote.

The behind-the-scenes prep is intense

The Kardashians always look picture-perfect and fully glammed, but this level of superstardom and the constant barrage of media attention that surrounds them have had a deep impact on their beauty regime and daily upkeep habits. A 2017 interview with Elle revealed that even when they were innocent, impressionable young girls, Kylie and Kendall Jenner were forced to take part in aesthetic upkeep for the sake of the show.

"I get [my nails] done once a week, which isn't normal," Kylie said. Kendall chimed in, "Except my mom would make us do it. She would have a nail artist come to the house once a week and she would make us get our nails done." She continued to describe the pressure of looking a certain way for the cameras, sharing that Kris Jenner told her, "You are never going to look like you're not put together." At the time of the interview, Kendall would only opt to get her nails for photo shoots, now that she was empowered to make this decision for herself. Kylie frequently features her creative nails on her Instagram page.

Kim Kardashian has also admitted that appearing in front of the cameras takes a lot of work. She told Paper magazine in 2014 that she'd set aside two full hours for hair and makeup each day before filming. In 2022, the star debuted her SKKN by Kim line. Not surprisingly, it's skincare in nine separate steps.

Kris Jenner makes producers toss out footage if she doesn't love her look

Some fans might believe that reality TV is capturing celebs' moments in their true essence, as they unfold. However, Kris Jenner has revealed that this isn't always the case on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." In fact, when it comes to the scenes that she is personally featured in, Jenner admits she yanks out the footage if she feels she doesn't look her best. The mom has spoken candidly about doing away with unflattering shots, but fans may be surprised to hear just how particular she really is, and how seemingly small the "flaws" are that have her so deeply concerned.

"I mean, believe me, I'm not going to lie, there's been times when I've walked away from the camera and I've got a big bump in my hair and I'm like, 'Take that out, my hair looks like sh*t,'" Kris said during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "I'm too vain to leave really ugly, ugly angles in."

Kris Jenner has also admitted to adding an entire hour to her morning routine before filming to allot enough time for her professional hair and makeup, she told The New York Times in 2015.

Some of the footage is seriously fake

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians" has been scrutinized for faking footage on more than one occasion, one of which wound up turning into a legal matter. Life & Style alleged that they obtained court documents from a deposition filed by the show's producer, Russell Jay, which proves that the show wasn't entirely reality-based. Jay reported that scenes that included Kris Humphries, the former husband of Kim Kardashian, were either scripted, edited, or re-shot. A source insisted that the Kardashian family altered the footage intentionally, to damage Humphries' reputation.

Kim Kardashian has admitted that the show changed after she was attacked and robbed at gunpoint in Paris in 2016. In her interview with Variety, Kim acknowledged that after the attack, the family decided not to discuss events in real-time, and opted for a different approach in order to mitigate risks of danger. The Kardashians became generally more guarded with what they revealed to their audience and in discerning when to share certain information. "We used to share so much in real time, and once we realized that real time can get a little bit scary and tricky, we have saved so much more," Kim said. "I think we're still really good at sharing. I think we're just really cautious and careful, and I think that's okay."

It's unclear who really pays for televised family vacations

The Kardashian family is known to take extremely luxurious vacations, and they aren't shy about sharing their lavish lifestyle with their millions of fans and followers on social media. However, it remains unclear if they actually pay for their own vacations, or if they're receiving VIP, all-expense paid experiences.

In 2014, Radar claimed to have obtained the exclusive information that E! covered the wildly expensive trips for the Kardashians and Jenners, citing that their trip to Phuket, Thailand, wound up costing E! an astounding $100,000. This included flying each of the famous family members first-class and ensuring that all their needs were met. It was reported that the family had also indulged in expensive trips to Greece and Tahiti, on the network's tab. 

Refinery29 reported on the family's use of private jets while on vacation, finding that the family routinely spent exorbitant amounts of money on them. However, Kourtney Kardashian had a very different story to tell about who paid for their fancy vacations. In a video clip from Season 18 of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," Kourtney and Kim were discussing the cost of a trip to Costa Rica for North's birthday, and Kourtney was visibly upset about being handed a bill. "Why am I being sent this other huge bill, and then why isn't production chipping in if we're using it for the show?" Kourtney said. It seems that in this specific situation, Kourtney was tagging along and taking up space on the plane, so Kim asked her to take care of security's commercial flights.

Their KUWTK paychecks are shocking

The Kardashians and Jenners are likely earning way more money than most people can comprehend through their reality television show alone. In fact, in March 2022, Variety revealed that the royal family of reality TV was raking in a shared jaw-dropping nine figures for their newer show "The Kardashians," which airs on Hulu. Their earnings have continued to grow over the span of their 20-year reign on reality TV, with Variety indicating in 2017 that the family was bringing in just under $100 million for filming through 2020. TMZ estimated that the number was $150,000.

Khloé told Variety, "We are all equals," revealing that the breakdown of earnings was equally split between herself and her siblings. In spite of dividing their earnings equally among one another, one person does stand to earn a bit more than the others, and that's the family's "momager," Kris Jenner. "My mom deals with all the negotiating, and we let her do that because it is uncomfortable. She fights like a pit bull. She loves to do it and we let her do it," Khloé explained to Variety. On top of her earnings for appearing on the show, Kris takes a 10% commission from all of her daughters' earnings, according to Forbes.