When Bruce Jenner announced to Diane Sawyer (and therefore, the entire world!) that he identified as a woman, it sent the media crazed world into a frenzy. The exposé raked in over 16.9 million views, with Jenner immediately being hailed as a hero, a new voice of reason and most importantly, as a woman. It was a massive step for Jenner, as it was revealed he identified as being a woman in his youth, cross dressing in private and beginning to take HRT (hormone replacement therapy) up until he met Kris Jenner.
Then began a new chapter in Jenner’s life, as Keeping up with the Kardashians was first broadcast in 2007, rapidly becoming one of the most popular reality tv shows in the world. It showed Jenner’s step children Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and Rob and his biological children, Kendall and Kylie all living together as fame took over their worlds. Alongside wife Kris, Jenner was soon depicted as the boring dad who only enjoyed golf, didn’t take to his children’s antics and was simply married to the outspoken matriarch of the household. However, it turned out to be Jenner who was living with the biggest secret of all.
After Jenner’s interview went public, it was announced that a television series would be produced and filmed, entailing the journey of Jenner’s transition. Debuting on E! (The home behind KUWTK) I am Cait, introduced us to Caitlyn Jenner.
The series opens at 4.30am, as a tired and ‘I look like crap’ Jenner lies in bed, fretting about her new found status as role model. She looks teary eyed as she wonders how she will be able to help the trans community when she is just coming to grips with it herself. In her own words ‘I feel bad that, especially young people are going through such a difficult time in their life. We don’t want people dying over this. We don’t want people murdered over this stuff.”
The series soon cuts to the debut of her monumental Vanity Fair cover. She sits with her hair stylist and makeup artist who squeal in delight as Caitlyn adorns the cover in a golden basque, introducing herself to the world. Jenner, herself, looks happy but also a little anxious at the big reveal. She receives calls from her step-children, Kim Kardashian West and Rob Kardashian, one call telling her she looks beautiful and that they are so proud, the other exclaiming that Jenner is breaking Twitter records with her amount of followers (Can you guess who made that call?).
A heartfelt appearance comes in the form of Jenner’s mother Esther, along with her sisters Pam & Lisa. It’s a touching moment when Esther walks in and beams, seeing her daughter for the first time, living her life as Caitlyn. Esther admits her nerves about meeting ‘her’ for the very first time, and admitting to how hard she will find it not to think of and address her child as Bruce. She admits when Jenner first told her of her transitioning, she felt like she had lost a son, but now sees it in a new light, she has gained a daughter.
The show also features appearances from Jenner’s daughter, Kylie. When she meets Caitlyn in the flesh, there are nothing but kind words and hugs and kisses as the pair embrace. Kim Kardashian West also meets Caitlyn for the first time, followed by rapper and husband, Kanye West. Admitting that she doesn’t have the closest relationship with the rapper, Caitlyn thanks West for his empowering comments as he tells her ‘I think it’s one of the strongest things that have happened in our existence as human beings, that are so controlled by perception,” West said. “You couldn’t have been up against more. Your daughter’s a supermodel, you’re a celebrity. Every type of thing, and it was still like, ‘Fuck it everybody, this is who I am'”.
The most poignant moment comes when Caitlyn hears about the suicide of a transgender teen, who was only 14 years old. Jenner discovers that Kyler Prescott, despite parental and classmate support, committed suicide. Jenner makes the trip to visit the Prescott family and talks with Prescott’s mother Katherine about her child. They speak about the struggles in the Trans community and how everyday somebody is struggling to accept their true selves, or live in fear of not being accepted. Jenner wants to change that and this is her perfect platform to start. She admits ‘“I feel a tremendous responsibility here because I have voice and there are so many trans people out there who don’t have a voice. I can’t speak for them because everyone has their own experience but I am an expert on my story.”
The series is, of course, a dramatic production. It has solemn music and tears, cut away shots as Jenner sits alone and heartfelt confessions from her family, but compared to keeping up with the Kardashians, this all feels remarkably true to itself. Jenner, truly is on a journey that we are witnessing first hand. This is not a renewed reality show in which we expect arguments, tears and laughter, these things are happening naturally to someone who is dealing with them right now.
Celebrities have hailed Caitlyn for her bravery, as have viewers who call Caitlyn an inspiration and someone who they hope will make a change for the better within the Trans community. Jenner puts it mildly herself, “I don’t think I have ever been more excited about life than I am right now, living my true identify and hopefully going to make a difference in the world. That’s my mission’.
— Jazz Jennings (@JazzJennings__) July 27, 2015
Anyone would have forgiven #IAmCait to focus completely on Caitlyn. So beautiful to see the spotlight being shined on other trans stories
— Courtney Act (@courtneyact) July 27, 2015
— Jamie Hendrix (@Jamie_R_Hendrix) July 27, 2015
This a new era, one in which I am Cait might end up becoming the defining reality show of a generation.