GLAMOUR.COM: After a reluctant start, Khloé Kardashian, 33, became one of the biggest reality stars in the world. On the tenth anniversary of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, she reflects on that pivotal choice.
In 2007 my sister Kourtney and I were living together in a townhouse in Calabasas, California, where we grew up. We were running our clothing store, Dash, and our kids’ store, Smooch, right next to each other in the mall. We were there every day, and we had no other employees: We did everything ourselves, from the taxes to the housekeeping and inventory. We would take our 15-minute lunch break together and eat in the back.
At my mom’s house, we’d always have these big family dinners. Ryan Seacrest came to one and was like, “You guys are crazy. You need to be on TV.” My mom and my sister Kim wanted to do the show, but Kourtney and I were really against it. We were like, “No—we love our little life. We love what we’re doing.” But Ryan said, “We need the whole family or nobody at all.” So my mom kind of sold it to us as a great commercial for our stores. We were like, “Ugh, fine.” I remember we found two girls who worked across the street from us and asked them to run Dash and Smooch for three days while we shot.
Our show, at first, was like a very modern-day Brady Bunch—a little gimmicky and with a takeaway each episode.
The first thing we ever filmed was a barbecue at my mom’s house. That was our pilot, I guess you could call it. A barbecue! We didn’t know what the hell we were doing. We had seen The Osbournes and The Simple Life, but The Osbournes was more security-camera-footage style, very raw. The Simple Life was all about Paris and Nicole being out of their environment. Our show, at first, was like a very modern-day Brady Bunch—a little gimmicky and with a takeaway each episode. People would say, “I’ve never seen a family cuss each other out, or go through the things you go through, and still be in love with each other.” But that was just our twist on the dorkiness of having this blended family that all gets along.
After the first six episodes aired, we started to get a little more foot traffic at our stores, but it wasn’t a tourist attraction or anything. I’d still go to the Fantastic Sams across the street from my store a few times a week to get a blow-dry for $25. I did my own makeup. Occasionally I’ll catch an old episode and notice how we all talked in these baby voices. It’s crazy if you listen to it now. I think maybe we did it because we were nervous.
I didn’t start to really understand the opportunity the series presented until the fourth or fifth season. I was young, and I didn’t care as much. The truth is that I was heavier then too, so not a lot of endorsements were coming my way. Brands would prefer to align themselves with Kim or Kourtney, which I was totally fine with because I was still along for the ride. But it’s also a very sad thing to realize that most brands are interested only in pretty, cute, in-shape girls. There were things I did back then that made me think, Why am I doing this? I once did a deal with a tampon company, and I was like, “Why am I so thirsty?” But I was young, and you feel pressure; you see your sisters getting deals and you’re like, “Should I be doing something? Is a pad commercial all I can get? Well, OK then.” The older you get, and the more comfortable you become in your skin, the more you begin to think about what makes sense for you. When I started getting in shape and when I first got married [to now-ex Lamar Odom, the basketball player], a different amount of attention came my way. Because I had already seen my sisters go through it, I was able to be pickier about my opportunities.
Not every episode is juicy to us; it’s only juicy to the audience.
Now our lives have evolved. We film six days a week, 12 to 18 hours a day, every single day. When you compile that much footage into 13 or 14 44-minute episodes, you can find a lot of drama. Not every episode is juicy to us; it’s only juicy to the audience. Things like Kim’s robbery or Caitlyn’s transition? That’s the kind of stuff we wish we had never filmed. We aren’t ever like, “Oooh! Let’s do this for season nine.” This is our life, and these are the things that happen. And it’s funny—when we decide not to shoot things, people feel slighted. But when we film too much, they’re like, “Oh, you never should have filmed that.” It’s a catch-22.
We never could have fathomed the longevity of the show—that we would film 14 seasons and a handful of spin-offs. I don’t think anybody could have. When it comes to our drama, we are a large, blended family. If you put a microscope over any family for 10 years, you’re bound to find cracks in the foundation. That’s just the name of the game, and we’re strong enough to endure it.
We are by nature vulnerable and open people. And I think it’s a gift to be that way. I know a lot of people who are superb actors, who could act the f-ck out of a role, but they could never be themselves in front of a camera—it would be too much to have people tear them apart or judge them. I totally get that, but this is what we do. And we do it together. This is what we’ve chosen, and we’ve chosen to be as raw and honest as we can.
Let’s Hit Rewind
Khloé walks us through some of her most indelible on-air moments.
After the pilot premieres, E! cautiously orders even more Kardashians. « I remember, during I think the second or third episode, they said, ‘OK, we need to pick up three more episodes,' » Khloé says. « I was still the sole employee at my store [Dash]. It wasn’t a tourist attraction or anything. »
Season two finds the sisters playing good-natured pranks on one another—like Kim and Kourtney secretly making an online dating profile for Khloé. « I can’t believe I went out with those guys. And then my sisters were sitting in the car with walkie talkies?” she says with a laugh. “I loved when we used to be able to do stuff like that. »
In season three, Khloé goes to jail for less than three hours after turning herself in for a DUI. « That’s one of those times you wish you didn’t have cameras on you. It was more embarrassing than anything else,” she says. “I mean, I could have hurt or killed someone. But, you know, that happened. And I dealt with it. And it will never happen again. »
After she slaps Kourtney’s ex Scott Disick in season four, Khloé attends an anger management class. « I was supposed to say, ‘Hi, I’m Khloé’ and whatever, but I wouldn’t say it, » she remembers. « I was like, ‘I don’t have an anger problem; I have a Scott problem.' »
A season five prank—involving a make-believe relationship between BFF Malika and Rob—rubs Khloé the wrong way. « I would have been okay if my best friend and brother fell in love, like Monica and Chandler on Friends, but what I feared was that they wouldn’t work out, » she says. « Neither of them is going anywhere, so it would be something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I really didn’t like that it was this secret thing. »
In season six Khloé and Kim butt heads over Kim’s then-husband, NBA player Kris Humphries. « We had an unhealthy relationship, and I was really vocal about that, » Khloé says. « I don’t like ‘the Hump,’ and he doesn’t like me. It’s mutual. »
Khloé and then-husband Lamar Odom return to Los Angeles—and Rob moves in. The trio is surprisingly compatible living under one roof. « Honestly, Rob and I are so close because we’re so close in age, » she says. « He and I grew up together, like Kourtney and Kim grew up together. When he moved out, it was like my baby moved out. Well, not my baby, but it was emotional. »
Eight seasons in, Khloé and Scott’s former drama (see season four) is water well under the bridge. « After a while, you think, ‘If my sister loves this person, I have to have my own relationship with them,’ » Khloé says. « Scott and I are still super close. Even though he does fucked up stuff, I still consider him like family. »
While going through her divorce from Lamar, Khloé deals with heightened media scrutiny. « That was a really, really hard time for me. It was the first time I had received really negative attention, » she says. « I’ve never been a party girl, but [drinking] is something I turned to. I was probably drunk while we were filming season nine. »
As Caitlyn Jenner publicly transitions, Khloé and her sisters are forced to process the change on the world stage: « That’s the sad thing, » she says. « We can’t deal with things in a normal period, like normal people. We have to kind of brush ourselves off and move on. »
It’s announced that Khloé will headline her own spinoff, a weight loss competition series called Revenge Body With Khloé Kardashian. « Once I started losing weight, different things came my way, » she says. « Because I had already seen my sisters go through it, I was able to be pickier about my opportunities. »
« The show is a lot glitzier than it used to be, » Khloé admits. « Last September, Kim and Kourtney were in New York for Kanye’s [fashion] show. So we decided to all go—and we took the crew with us. »
« Based on the edit, I am the one who comes out looking annoying, » Khloé says of a season-13 family trip during which Kim calls her « a big bully. » « But they were all complaining the entire time, » she says. « It’s times like that I wish the camera was filming 20 hours a day to show every side of the story. »
As told to Justine Harman