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How Khloé Kardashian's DUI Arrest Became The Blueprint For Kardashian Image Control

Khloe's DUI was apparently the result of her grieving her father around the time of his fourth anniversary. However, the anniversary didn't fall until six months after her arrest…

Posted on March 26, 2021, at 7:44 a.m. ET

This is an excerpt from Kim, There's People That Are Watching, BuzzFeed News' brand-new newsletter dedicated to the 20th and final season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. You can sign up here.

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Over the last 14 years, the Kardashians have dominated pop culture and built a brand worth $2 billion, but many of their biggest career successes stemmed from scandal.

David Crotty / Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Each week, we take a look back at how the family's most ~kontroversial~ moments have defined their lives and empire. This week, we're looking at how Khloé's DUI arrest was a masterclass in Kardashian image control...

Nbc / Getty Images

"I just know I’m going to jail," Khloé says in a confessional after being pulled over and failing a series of sobriety tests.

A police officer holds a flashlight up to Khloé in her car
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The scene is a reconstruction of Khloé's 2007 DUI arrest. For the Kardashians, the incident was disastrous.

A screenshot shows Khloé walking in a line during a sobriety test outside of her car with a police officer
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Unlike the other white celebrity women being booked around the time, Khloé's success was on the rise. Kris Jenner had spent months attempting to launch long-term careers for her daughters by touting a reality show hinging on their lives as family-oriented, hardworking, law-abiding girls next door.

Now the Kardashians needed to find a way of explaining the arrest while also differentiating themselves from the rest of Hollywood’s ~bad girls~ or risk similar short-lived notoriety. And so the Season 1 episode "Remembering Dad" was born.

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It charted the family grieving for the late Robert Kardashian ostensibly at around the time of his fourth anniversary. As Kris explains in a confessional, Khloé always "struggled with her grief and anger at this time of year," and that was the reason she got drunk and was ultimately arrested.

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However, these scenes weren't actually filmed around the anniversary. Khloé was arrested on March 7, but the anniversary doesn't fall until Sept. 30.

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This suggests that Khloé was either grieving six months in advance of the date or the family engineered the episode as a more palatable explanation for her misdemeanor.

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Even more interestingly, the episode didn't air until November — eight months after the DUI but shortly after the anniversary, bolstering the show's narrative that the two were connected.

This skewing of timelines to support the family's desired narrative is a technique they employed many times over.

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The clearest instance was a scene in which Kim tells Kris Jenner about the struggles in her marriage to Kris Humphries. It portrays Kim in a more positive light in the face of immense public backlash, and suggests that her decision to divorce Kris was something she agonized over.

Subtitles show Kim saying "I just feel like something in this marriage is off. I don't know. Is this normal to be feeling this way?"
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Kris says, "No, Kim, it's not normal to not want to go home to your brand-new husband"
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However, paparazzi shots later revealed that it was actually filmed in an LA studio two months after she filed for divorce.

Reality Tea

This proves the extent to which the show was used to shape and control the family's public image, but its masterful storytelling is also the reason KUWTK remains the longest-running reality TV show of all time.

Todd Williamson / NBCU Photo Bank / NBCUniversal via

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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