×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘I Am Cait’ Displays Strengths, Weaknesses in Season Finale (SPOILERS)

In one of those meta moments, a later episode of “I Am Cait” featured Caitlyn Jenner picking up the Los Angeles Times and reading the enthusiastic review of the show’s premiere. While Jenner has done pretty much everything right from a public-relations standpoint since her Diane Sawyer interview in April, the former Olympian couldn’t completely clear the hurdle of producing a show for E! In essence, “Cait” represented a tale of two shows, a good one in which Jenner hung out with other transgender people and became an advocate, and a secondary aspect devoted to keeping up with the Kardashians.

Both personalities were clearly on display in the season finale (and SPOILER ALERT, to the extent such warnings apply, if you haven’t watched), which opened with Caitlyn’s dramatically teased meeting with ex-wife Kris, who expressed a sense of hurt over comments Caitlyn made in a Vanity Fair profile. Tears sort of flowed, but Kris kept the stage-managed encounter interesting primarily by colorfully mangling the language, saying “I just felt thrown under the bridge” (at least it wasn’t a bus) and that the article “literally killed me.”

Obviously, coming out to one’s family is a major part of the transgender experience, especially for someone doing so later in life, with children to consider. In addition, embracing the Kardashian connection had a pragmatic component — offering a way to potentially assist in bringing “Cait” to the attention of viewers who might not have otherwise come to the show.

Yet the Kardashians’ carefully sculpted image (it’s hard to imagine them surviving without US Weekly, and vice versa) gave a scripted, inauthentic feeling to virtually all those encounters, as most of the gang – Kim and Kanye West, Khloe, Kylie Jenner – made pilgrimages to meet with Caitlyn over the course of the show’s eight-week run. If that was inevitable – and a comforting crutch for E!, providing a connection to its long-running franchise – in this case, blood was thinner than water.

Moreover, those sequences consistently paled next to virtually everything else in the show and much of its seemingly genuine emotion, including Jenner’s scenes with her mother and sisters.

Indeed, Jenner accomplished so much over the course of the series that the Kardashian clan increasingly felt like a distraction. Those separate undertakings included assembling a support system of transgender women, a budding friendship with actress Candis Cayne and efforts to educate herself by meeting with transgender youths or hearing from adults who lacked Jenner’s celebrity and financial resources.

In the finale, for example, Jenner and her new gang engaged in a rather intense discussion about faith, and whether being transgender could be resolved with Christianity. The episode concluded with a naming ceremony, which, among other things, provided an excuse to flash back through the entire season.

Most reality shows, obviously, seek to conjure drama, and despite all the good Jenner sought to do “I Am Cait” clearly didn’t want to risk being viewed as an eight-hour public-service announcement. That said, there were plenty of opportunities for that without consistently playing the Kardashian card, including the way the producers built tension around Jenner receiving the Courage Award at the ESPYs. (As an aside, the practice of trying to be arty by cutting away to Jenner’s hands should be retired permanently.)

“I Am Cait” closed as it opened, with Jenner speaking directly into a small camera, confessing hopes and fears. “I want to help people,” she said, and in terms of altering the conversation and perceptions regarding the transgender community, she clearly has. It’s only too bad that the series bearing her name, even with its strengths, struggled to find its identity.

More TV

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Says She's Been 'Targeted' for Her Claims of Liberal Media Bias

    Former CBS News foreign correspondent Lara Logan appeared on “Hannity” Wednesday evening to expand on her recent remarks characterizing the media as “mostly liberal.” “It’s obvious, right, because you get targeted,” she said, explaining her earlier comments that she was committing “professional suicide” by criticizing the media. “It’s the same group of people, they’re already [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    'Empire' Producers Consider Suspending Jussie Smollett (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fox is considering removing Jussie Smollett from production on “Empire.” Sources close to the production told Variety that producers are weighing whether to suspend the actor after he was charged Wednesday in Chicago with filing a false police report. A spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the series, declined to comment. Smollett’s status on [...]

  • Game of Thrones Final Season: Best

    The Best 'Game of Thrones' Merch to Get You Ready for the New Season

    We’re just weeks away from the premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones,” and whether you’re a die-hard fan, on the hunt for a novelty gift, or a serious collector hoping to nab some memorabilia before the series signs off for good, we’ve found 10 pieces of merch that pay tribute to one [...]

  • Ryan KadroPaleyLive NY: The News Is

    Ryan Kadro Will Join Quibi to Oversee News Programming (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Kadro left CBS News several weeks ago, but he isn’t leaving the news business. Kadro, the former executive producer of “CBS This Morning” is set to join Quibi, the company led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman that is devoted to short-form  content. Kadro is expected to oversee news programming for the subscription-based service, [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Charged With Filing False Police Report

    “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, the Chicago police said Wednesday. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter. Related Bruce Jenner Overcomes Hype in Diane Sawyer Interview The Secret Mastermind Behind Caitlyn [...]

  • Coast Guard Lieutenant Hit List

    Coast Guard Lieutenant Targeted CNN, MSNBC Anchors and Democrats for Attacks

    Anchors at CNN and MSNBC and prominent Democrats were targeted for attack by a Coast Guard lieutenant arrested Friday on a firearms charge, according to federal prosecutors in Maryland. In court documents revealed Tuesday, prosecutors describe the firearms and controlled substance charges Christopher Paul Hasson is facing as “the proverbial tip of the iceberg.” CNN’s [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Drops Trailer for 'The Case Against Adnan Syed' (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the first official trailer for its upcoming docu-series “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” and Freeform announced three new cast members for its upcoming comedy series “Besties,” starring Jordin Sparks. DATES Related Bruce Jenner Overcomes Hype in Diane Sawyer Interview The Secret Mastermind Behind Caitlyn Jenner’s Transformation Netflix’s upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content