In the opening moments of E!'s highly anticipated, certainly heartfelt but anticlimactic reality show, I Am Cait, we travel to the top of the severely parched hills that overlook Malibu, where Caitlyn Jenner sits in her house surrounded by those who act as friends or advisers or stylists (the distinctions blur), while she is basking, nervously, in the instant sensation of her Vanity Fair cover appearance.
The release of that cover image in early June - more like a detonation - sets off a flurry of congratulatory phone calls, including one from Cait's famous step-daughter Kim Kardashian: "All eyes on you now," Kim says. "You cannot disappoint."
It's a stern counsel and it sets the entire tone for the show, which is not so much a full-on reality show as it is a show about spreading a message of acceptance and positive vibes. Caitlyn refers often to her new "responsibilities" as the world's most famous transgender woman, with what seems to be real worry and even fear about what awaits.
The meticulously styled Jenner - her closet suddenly filled with gratis offerings from Tom Ford, Diane von Furstenberg and other designers - seems genuinely giddy about introducing the world to Cait, who until this point has been known as Bruce Jenner, the gold medal-winning Olympic athlete.
The TV show wisely begins this journey by bringing in Jenner's mother, Esther, and two siblings, Lisa and Pam, so that they can "meet" Cait for the first time. Esther freely admits what so many of us struggle with: pronouns, details, changes, acceptance. It's hard to let Bruce go and shift seamlessly into seeing Cait.
I Am Cait
is not going to hold viewers for long by only being nice. In the last eight weeks or so, we've been so busy elevating and praising Caitlyn Jenner that we've forgotten something any casual watcher of
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
remembers all too well: this person who was once Bruce and is now Cait can be inscrutably spacey and occasionally weird. So hopefully Jenner also finds the freedom to be embarrassing and strange. Shouldn't we all have that right, too?
What: I Am Cait
When and Where: Today at midday and 9.30pm on E!