Welcome to the end, as this is the season finale of I Am Cait. This week, it was all about out with the old and in with the new. This episode starts on the Kris Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner chat that has been built up for the last three episodes. Now, finally, it’s here, and it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry. Reality TV! Whoo!
Basically, the pair agree to disagree on the Vanity Fair article, neither has the ability to listen to the other person, and clearly there is still a lot of hurt between them. Kris comes across as especially petty, as she didn’t invite Caitlyn to her daughter’s graduation two days before this meeting, then adds insult to injury by saying “Sometimes we miss having Bruce around. We all do.” I get that Caitlyn saying her family has been a distraction can be seen as rude, though only if you really try to take it that way.
Caitlyn meant it as she was throwing herself into her family so they could be a distraction from her ongoing gender struggle; what she was saying was all about her, not about her family at all. Caitlyn, though, is not the best person when it comes to phrasing things and her family seem determined to bite each other whenever possible. The meeting between the pair was awkward television and it was both their faults, however Kris needs to stop saying Bruce, that was very annoying.
After the utter non-excitement of the much hyped meet up the show moves on to something called a renaming ceremony. This is something I’ve not heard of before, and when I poked Twitter I didn’t get any of my transgender friends saying they’d done this either. It’s for Caitlyn to announce to her friends in a ceremony what her new name is, and she’d like a Minister to officiate it. The segment then takes a right turn into religion in what is a very important segment for the religious christian fundamentalist sections of the American audience.
The show directly addresses the religious bigotry that is often thrust at trans people. Jenny Boylan introduces Caitlyn to Allyson Robinson, a transgender ordained Baptist Minister. I broke one of my rules at this point and read other reviews of this episode of I Am Cait before I’d finished writing my own. I wanted to see what the mainstream of People, E!, Hollywood Reporter, and so on were saying about this religious segment. None of them talked about the significance of the section—most of them barely mentioned it. A website called Entertain This went one further and insultingly called Allyson an activist ‘who is deeply religious and trans,’ reducing her significance to this segment a great deal.
The show covered the only mention in the bible that can be (mis)interpreted to be about transgender people: “Men cannot dress up as women,” Deuteronomy 22:5. I’ve read that the original intent of 22:5 is actually about law and to do with men putting on a disguise to get away after committing a crime. How true that is, I don’t know, but it’s likely closer to the truth than a modern-day transgender reinterpretation of an ancient text that’s been translated multiple times before it reached English. Deuteronomy is irrelevant anyway as that bible passage is in the old testament, which was replaced by the new testament, which never mentions anything close to this.
Remember kids, don’t mix fabrics, don’t touch a pig, if a woman cheats when married kill her but not the guy if he cheats, and so on. The old testament is filled with impractical rules that make no modern-day sense but for some reason people like to pick and choose what parts of the bible they want to apply to other people. There is an idea that transgender people are not religious yet it’s the same as for cisgender people, some are and some are not. Allyson said something I hadn’t heard before, that Joseph’s coat of many colors in the original hebrew is called a “princess dress.”
As someone who is not religious I find it difficult to relate to the show dealing with religion, it’s just never been a part of my life. Of course it’s something I’ve done reading on so that I can understand where other people are coming from and to counter the bigotry that sometimes I get attacked with. Religion, though—either for or against it—is something I chose to opt out of. Religion can be a wonderful thing when it is used for good, but when religion is used to vilify, it ceases to be good and becomes bigotry. I don’t have any issues with religious people; I do have issues with bigots.
The main fluff piece this week was a Boy George concert that Caitlyn was on stage at, then a few days later came the renaming ceremony. None of Caitlyn’s family were present, it wasn’t addressed as to why. Perhaps it was because this was a day for Caitlyn and her trans friends, who Caitlyn said ‘had not had renaming celebrations of their own, and this is for them more than me.’ The show then wraps up as it opened with Caitlyn Jenner talking directly to the camera and saying “The last few months for me have been the most amazing of my life. … For the first time I feel like I fit in someplace. … I want to help people in my community. We have a long way to go. We have a good beginning and that makes my heart feel good.”
The last episode is everything that is right with I Am Cait, and everything wrong too. It’s done a lot of good in talking about trans issues in a way conservative religious middle America can understand, a lot of others could have learned things by watching this too, I learned some things about myself. The show has been like watching Twoface in Batman, it has a split personality that hasn’t been reconciled. One side of the show about Caitlyn’s transition, about how she’s trying to do good for and in the trans community and this has been great. Caitlyn’s a deeply flawed person, and that’s been shown, but I think her heart is genuinely in the right place.
The other side of I Am Cait, the side that has held the show back like an embedded anchor, is the reality TV format. The need for drama, the poor editing that has been showing scenes out of order and inserting reaction shots to statements that didn’t get those reactions. The perceived need to keep building up scenes as huge emotional events only to have them be a couple of minutes long and really not important at all. A couple of the episodes moved away from that format and the show was stronger for it but it never escaped the anchor of reality TV.
I suspect this was E!’s doing as they were aiming for Kardashian levels of TV ratings, which never happened. We’ll never know what the show could have been without the format holding it back, I doubt we’re going to see I Am Caitseason two. I’m conflicted about that, I kind of like Caitlyn Jenner despite my own misgivings. The show has done more good than any other trans show on TV, mostly because of the strong educational components that other shows lack. Overall I Am Cait can be considered a show that didn’t get everything right, but did more good than harm. That, at least, Caitlyn should be proud of.