Most fans of reality TV shows give their favourite franchises some leeway when it comes to the word “reality,” especially when their guilty pleasure of choice is “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” which depicts a family of incredibly image-conscious PR pros.
But one KUWTK superfan, Mariah Smith, knows exactly how cut-and-pasted each episode is, because she spends up to twelve hours a week figuring it out for her blog.
Smith runs the Tumblr Keeping Up With the Kontinuity Errors, where she painstakingly matches every scene of every KUWTK episode with paparazzi shots or Instagram selfies posted by the cast members.
Through this methodology, she determines when each scene was shot.
Unsurprisingly, she’s found plenty of proof that the show is often shot completely out of order.
For example, this past week on KUWTK, Kylie Jenner deals with scrutiny from the press about her lip injections. In an early scene of this episode, Kylie sits down with a reporter from New Zealand’s Remix magazine.
He asks about her lips, and she looks uncomfortable and avoids talking about possible injections.
In a confessional interview (when you see the reality star talking directly to the camera about what’s happening in the scene), she says that she’s not ready to admit that she has used fillers.
Several scenes later, she talks with Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley, and says in another confessional that she’s “now ready to be honest about her appearance and stop dodging questions about her lips,” Smith writes on KUWTKE.
But Smith found that the Teen Vogue interview took place on Feb. 6, 2015, while the Remix interview — which was presented as having taken place earlier — was actually shot on Feb. 10, four days later.
“Maybe Kylie was too busy studying for a midterm, and forgot mere days ago she was ready to live her truth,” Smith posits on KUWTKE.
Smith told Business Insider that she got into her unofficial gig as the internet’s foremost KUWTK plot de-bunker because she absolutely loves the show.
“I never want it to be taken as me bashing them, like never,” she said. “But I feel like people deserve to know the truth. What they’re presenting as real isn’t real at all, but we can still watch and enjoy.”
She’s been watching the show for years, but only started her blog this season. The seed was planted back in season eight, though, when Kim’s pregnancy presented some continuity challenges, as pictured at the top of this post.
In the 16th episode of season eight, Smith thought she noticed that Kim Kardashian was pregnant in one scene, but not pregnant anymore in a scene that allegedly took place shortly after that scene. In the second scene, she is suspiciously holding a pillow over her stomach the entire time.
Smith is unsure whether this sequence was actually shot out of order because she hasn’t cross-checked it with Instagram posts or paparazzi shots. But she says Kim’s hairstyles speak for themselves; they varied immensely throughout the first few scenes of S8,E16.
“It was staged so obviously that it offended me but completely enlightened me,” Smith said. “I realised this could really be something. I wish I had realised it sooner.”
Smith says she wouldn’t have been able to embark on this project any time earlier than the last few years, as the Kardashians have steadily beefed up their Instagram presence since then.
“When I first started thinking about doing this, they weren’t as big on social media, so it was harder to look at things like their glam or their makeup,” she said. “Then, this year, I realised just how much they post and how much you’re aware of them every day, so it made the most sense. It’s a perfect storm, essentially.”
Smith says she has a photographic memory when it comes to the Kardashians’ social media posts. I asked if this incredibly specific skill was really only applicable to Kardashian selfies.
“Honestly, it is,” she said with a laugh, “and that’s been really unfortunate.”
To create each blog post on KUWTKE, Smith watches each new episode when it airs on Sunday night. Then, she watches it again to take notes of each scene and describe the action of the scene. The next day, she will go through each scene and analyse the wardrobe, nails, hair and makeup of the characters onscreen, then find the Instagram photos or paparazzi photos that match the looks.
From there, she selects which scenes are most important, which errors are most egregious, and her favourite moments from the show. Then, she writes her post. She sometimes watches an episode up to four times before writing about it.
“This is so embarrassing,” she said, “but sometimes it can take up to 12 hours to figure it all out.”
Smith works in TV production, which has helped her pick up on other little things on the show. For example, she says crew members are frequently visible in reflective surfaces. In fact, she noticed that the chrome appliances in Kris’s kitchen used to constantly show crew members’ reflections, but that they no longer do. She speculates that they have been treated to stop showing reflections.
She is also good at spotting what seems like the handiwork of production assistants, like a pizza-box marriage proposal that allegedly came from a Kylie stalker in a recent episode that centered around Kris’s growing security concerns and paranoia.
“There’s no way Domino’s would be getting past a gated community in Calabasas,” she said. “Think of the logistics. And there would be a line producer, like, ‘We didn’t order this, what’s this doing here?'”
In that episode, according to Smith’s research, essentially an entire storyline was shot in one day, on Feb. 3, 2015. She deduced this by cross-checking Kylie’s Vine account, paparazzi photos of Kendall, a Kim selfie from later in the day and a Khloé selfie with the Kardashians’ and Jenners’ hair, makeup and/or clothes from the scenes.
“All in one day, Kris hired, fired, then complained about the lack of security on her property,” Smith alleges on KUTWKE.
So what attracted Smith to “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” in the first place? At first, she said, she didn’t know much about the family, but felt that their lifestyles and personalities hit a perfect sweet spot between relatable and unattainable.
“To me, it makes me laugh and makes me feel happy,” she said of the show’s apparent lack of real-ness. “They have the confidence to say, ‘We’re gonna give you this reality show, but get this: it’s not gonna be real.’ It just blows my mind.”
Smith has picked up on plenty of shooting tricks from her exhaustive work cataloging the Kardashians’ onscreen beauty looks. For example, the family often has what she calls “inside days,” where they shoot multiple scenes inside one person’s house, changing only their clothes and the room where they’re shooting. Then, Smith says, the scenes are dispersed across multiple episodes to serve multiple plot points.
Sometimes, the cast resorts to wearing clothes they’d just worn a few days earlier in order to differentiate the scenes as they move through the house, Smith said. When someone is reusing an outfit but their hair or makeup is different from how it appears in an Instagram photo in that outfit, Smith knows they’re shooting on an “inside day.”
“I have so many theories,” she joked. “Sometimes I feel like I need to take a break and stop thinking about them.”
Smith doesn’t think the Kardashians will quell their selfie habits because of her blog.
“They’re not gonna stop Instagramming,” she said. “And if they tried to change their looks up more than they already do, they would never sleep. They wake up at like 5 a.m. to get into glam and go to the gym and do their full little day putzing around town. If they had to fit in another three-hour makeup session and one-hour styling session? They can’t.”
The most surprising thing she’s learned while chronicling season 10 has been how long the Kardashians work.
“They do actually work long hours filming the show,” she said. “Sometimes, the crew is there at 7 a.m. and they get glam and they’re still in that look and it’s like 8 p.m. that night.”
Smith reiterated that the show’s not-quite-cinema-verité approach doesn’t cheapen her love for the family as entertainers.
“They could come out tomorrow and hold a press conference and say this show was created by Shonda Rhimes and is a dramedy,” she said, “and I would say, ‘OK, sign me up for however many more episodes you have left.’ It doesn’t matter if it’s completely scripted. It’s all about enjoyment.”
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