Sophie’s Choice: I am Cait (TV review)
Published by Student Rag magazine.
Following on from the Keeping Up with The Kardashians: About Bruce special led the way for the newly unveiled Caitlyn Jenner’s E! documentary series: I am Cait. We’ve all seen that already iconic Vanity Fair cover (a victory in itself for transgender rights) and seen the tweets of support for Caitlyn from celebrities including Ariana Grande and Barack Obama, but I am Cait offers an authentic and unique glimpse into Caitlyn’s newly discovered world of hair, makeup, slumber parties and sleepovers as she goes through a “second adolescence”.
But after the fun dressing up part comes the more serious side of being a transgender individual as Caitlyn meets other transgender women who have some heart-breaking stories; experiencing everything from bullying, sex work, abuse and sexual violence; to disownment from their families and friends, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, depression and suicide.
As well as the physical transformation, the change in Caitlyn as a person is remarkable. Bruce Jenner was only seen crying once in KUWTK during Khloe Kardashian’s wedding episode, but as the born again Caitlyn Jenner in I am Cait; Caitlyn is drastically more sensitive, thoughtful and in touch with her emotions as the incredible stories she hears and the tremendous love and acceptance she receives from members of her new community easily brings her to tears on several occasions.
Although Caitlyn’s new friends offer her encouragement, advice and support in bucket loads, they are also quick to call her out on her privilege and make sure she knows that what she has achieved in only a few short months is more than what some disadvantaged transgender individuals will ever achieve in their entire lifetime. Her friends are also quick to point out that what she has done isn’t actually ground-breaking; that many other people have come out as transgender and transitioned against all odds and they haven’t received anywhere near the same amount of credit and support. But on the spin side, Jenner also defends herself; pointing out that living in the public eye and being stalked by paparazzi is its own beast.
In Sunday’s episode, we saw Jenner having her first girly sleepover with her friend and suspected love interest, actress Candis Cayne, as well as having tense confrontations with Kim Kardashian West and Khloe Kardashian over the comments Caitlyn made in the Vanity Fair article as she described ex-wife Kris Jenner and daughters Kendall and Kylie Jenner as “distractions”.
The more tactile of the elder sisters, Kim, is the first to speak to Caitlyn about how her comments have hurt Kris and, later on, Khloe goes in not quite all guns blazing but definitely not tip-toeing around the subject with Caitlyn. In a way, I do think Caitlyn has lost herself in this amazing new world and, maybe for a brief moment, overlooked her family. As Khloe explains why the family are hurt by her comments, Caitlyn snaps back with “you don’t know what you’re talking about”, which may be true to a certain extend but just because her family don’t, and probably never will, fully understand her transition, that doesn’t make their feelings invalid.
Fortunately, Khloe and Caitlyn quickly make amends; hugging, kissing and talking about accessories and eyelash extensions as soon as both sides have said their piece and expressed themselves.
In the snippet of next week’s episodes, we finally see Kris and Caitlyn have a tense and emotionally charged first meeting where Kris raises her own issues with comments Caitlyn has made in the press.
I am Cait is truly an authentic and exceptional documentary series that shows the highs and lows of gender reassignment and does an excellent job at showcasing that transgender individuals are no different from everyone else. The overall message of this series is one of acceptance, tolerance and love, and with every episode, the audience becomes more and more inspired to be kinder and more accepting of everyone no matter their gender, sexuality, race, religion or disability. I am Cait continuously encourages the audience to embrace and love our differences and flaws instead of masking them.
The next episode of I am Cait airs on Sunday at 9pm on E!
For more on Caitlyn Jenner, read my CultNoise Magazine opinion piece: “Call Me Transphobia: The Caitlyn Jenner Halloween Costume“.
Featured image courtesy of Caitlyn Jenner’s Instagram.