I Am Cait – A Review

Normally I avoid reality TV shows like the plague. Both out of principle, and from fear that I’ll become addicted to the trashy drama. Despite this, a toxic combination of my feminist values, the media hype surrounding the show, and the absence of anything else on TV got me glued to the first episode of ‘I Am Cait’ one night. I fucking loved that episode. Following such intimate moments as the first time her mother, Esther sees Caitlyn as a woman, and coming to terms with her new identity, it was heart-warming and nail-biting all at once.

In this episode, Caitlyn uses her show to bring attention to the trans community as a whole, including issues of stigma, expectations, and the disturbingly high rate of transgender suicides. She sums up what her goal with I Am Cait is, saying “I just want to be able to create some understanding, so that the next person who comes along doesn’t have to be like me”. I found Cait to be genuinely passionate when she spoke on transgender issues, and the vulnerability she showed was very touching.

Unfortunately, the shows later episodes fall short of its pilots blaze of glory. Despite best intentions, I Am Cait fails in its representation of everyday transgender people. While the first episode was quite documentary-esque, later episodes are an awkward hybrid of reality TV and serious issues. There are some sweet moments of understanding and friendship between Caitlyn and her new friends from the transgender community. This is nice, and it’s great to see LGBT issues entering into the mainstream dialogue. But, when it’s combined with extravagant activities and the token talking-behind-each-others-backs, the charm is ruined. Not quite trashy enough to be a guilty-pleasure-watch, and overlooking the deep difficulties and complexity that transgender people face, the later episodes don’t hook you in.

Perhaps if it had been made by someone slightly more reputable than E!, the show could’ve made a real impact. In my opinion, a one-off documentary or expose would’ve been more effective than just another mundane reality show. I Am Cait is not something I’d watch on the regular, but it’s definitely worth watching at least the first episode to get an insight into the struggles that transgender people face on the daily.


2 thoughts on “I Am Cait – A Review

  1. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think it being on E! has the majority to do with it. I think it’s because Caitlyn Jenner is not a great person in the first place. She wants to be a role model, which is all well and good, but she’s a horrible choice. Her unique situation, which allows her to have a freakin’ reality show in the first place, gave her a mostly easy street transition in relation to your average LGBT person coming out. Not saying it was easy, just easier. And the whole thing, coming from my stance as a transgender person, comes off as attention whoring in the first place. I wasn’t a huge fan of Jenner as a person before this all came out (I’d groan seeing her face on tabloids before she officially came out) but the biggest red flag was when she came out, but held off on properly introducing us to the “real her.” I’m a cynic, but that screamed either “publicity grab for the show” or “contractually obligated,” and neither of those things should factor in to a positive community role models line of thinking, you know?

    I’m glad she’s raising awareness, though. There’s an important person in my own life who now feels they understand me better simply because they watched the Jenner interview. But hot damn, the idea of her being a positive role model rankles me.

    1. Fair enough! I think it’s more the fact that she’s bringing awareness is the main benefit of the show, rather than her being a good role model. I’ve heard a lot of things about her past too, such as being a bad parent, etc. She has admitted that the show is unashamedly to make money, but it’s unlikely the whole thing is a publicity stunt! Definitely see your point though, and hopefully we will start to see more shows featuring trans people who are good role models 🙂

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