Keeping Up with the Kardashians Almost Didn’t Happen

According to Khloé Kardashian, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ owes its success to a little E! show scheduling slip-up.

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While it may be hard to believe that Keeping Up with the Kardashians will end its 20-season reign as a show that redefined reality television, it’s entirely possible that there could have been a world with no Keeping Up with the Kardashians in it at all. At least, that’s what Khloé Kardashian said when she appeared on Kelly Clarkson’s daily talk show to talk about her mixed feelings about ending the show, and the origin story of the family’s reality television empire.

According to Kardashian, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians pilot that first aired in 2007 was left on the cutting room floor before executive Ryan Seacrest decided to revive it and fill a time slot on E!. “A show on E! fell through, so they needed something to fill that dead air time,” she told Clarkson.

From then on, things moved pretty fast. The family was apparently told to just start filming for an episode that was going to air two weeks after they got the call that they’d be getting their own show. But the network didn’t want them to get their hopes up too high.

“We were just so excited asking what to expect and they said, ‘Don’t get too comfortable here. It’s just filler. Just film.'” Kardashian said, before suggesting that filming the show without the pressure of getting high enough ratings for a second season is what made everything about the first season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians feel so natural. “We were just thinking, ‘We’re not going to have a season two, let’s just film, have fun and be ourselves. This isn’t going anywhere, they’ve told us we’re just filling up dead air time.’ And so we had no pressure on ourselves,” she told Clarkson.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why the early seasons of Keeping Up with the Kardashians felt a little more cinéma vérité, now you have your answer. 14 years ago, the family had no idea that they were about to start a reality television empire with spin-offs and merch (and an eventual Hulu show). And social media was not as much of a threat to the “authenticity” shown on screen back then, either. “We didn’t have any way to preconceive or fake anything, we just were who we were on the fly,” Kardashian said. “And I think that’s what made the show so good — we weren’t thinking, we were being us.”

Related: Disney Guarantees Years of More Kardashian Content