'I Am Cait': Caitlyn Jenner Docuseries Offers an Earnest Look at the Larger Transgender Struggle
By Stacy Lambe
This is not Keeping Up With the Kardashians -- or any
incarnation of the long-running reality series and its several spinoffs and
Framedas a docuseries, I Am Cait is about
understanding who Caitlyn Jenner is as she discovers her own self. While
members of the Kardashian family -- Kim, Kanye West, and Kylie Jenner in
person, Rob on the phone -- do appear in the first episode, the cameras never
take focus off Caitlyn. Instead, they are just moments -- sometimes canned --
in Caitlyn’s journey.
The journey starts at 4:32 a.m. in Caitlyn’s bedroom as
she’s looking into a handheld camera. The Vanity Fair cover has already
come out. Her interview with Diane Sawyer seems like a distant memory. There’s
no package about who Bruce was or a look back at Caitlyn’s achievements during
the Olympics. That story is behind her.
From what press was allowed to see in the first
episode, Caitlyn is ready to move forward as Caitlyn, who presents herself for
the first time to her mother, Esther, and two sisters, Pam and Lisa. She spends
time with Kylie, wearing her daughter’s hair extensions. She digs through her
closet, which is filled with brands like Tom Ford and Diane von Furstenberg and
jokes about wearing the same outfit as her ex-wife, Kris Jenner.
There is very little drama, especially when compared to her
portrayal as a disgruntled father for nearly 10 years on KUWTK. The
heightened moments feel forced, like, when her mother walks into Caitlyn’s
house for the first time. In fact, the show is filled with a lot of laughter as
Caitlyn lets her personality shine through. It’s a welcome, fresh
But the show also -- in earnest -- mirrors Caitlyn’s ups and
downs with other transgender stories not normally exposed to film crews, let
alone displayed on a network like E!
In the premiere, Caitlyn visits the family of a transgender
teen who committed suicide. She talks with the mother, trying to connect her
own story to the late teenager. Caitlyn has previously confessed to past
suicidal feelings. It’s an all-too-brief glimpse into the issues that the
community faces every day.
“I'm clear with my responsibility in going forward: to tell
my story the right way, for me, to keep learning, to do whatever I can to
reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are
treated,” Caitlyn said when accepting the ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage earlier
One thing is clear: Caitlyn is attempting to honor that
commitment with the show.