'I Am Cait' Season 2: TV Review

Jeff Lipsky/E! Entertainment
Still admirably complex, as reality TV goes.

Caitlyn Jenner goes on a cross-country road trip with her girlfriends, revealing that she's still a Republican and no longer plans on dating women, in the E! reality show's second season.

Caitlyn Jenner's new life as a transgender woman is further chronicled in the second season of E!'s reality series, I Am Cait. The first episode concerns the undertaking of what promises to be a season-long, cross-country road trip by Caitlyn and her band of six friends (Jennifer Finney Boylan, Chandi Moore, Candis Cayne, Ella Giselle, Kate Bornstein, Ronda Kamihira and Courtney Nanson), the initial stop being the Grand Canyon.

Lacking the inherent drama of the first season, which involved Caitlyn's coming out, this episode (the only one previewed for critics) is essentially an extended coffee klatch among Caitlyn and her tribe, with cameo appearances by her daughters Kendall and Kylie. Kylie complains about the criticism she gets gets when she refers to Caitlyn as "dad," while Kendall says that Caitlyn's number is stored in her phone under "Mad," combining mom and dad.

"I am slowly coming into my womanhood, but it's a work in progress," declares Caitlyn, as the show briefly touches on the controversy engendered by her transition decision, with footage of a protest demonstration. But this episode — whose most dramatic incident involves Chandi briefly getting locked in the bus — mainly consists of conversation. The first part revolves around Caitlyn uncomfortably discussing her sexuality and making an important revelation — cue the dramatic music and commercial break — about her future dating life. "I can't see myself dating women in the future," she declares to her shocked friends. Later, when Candis wonders whether they'll be able to double-date, Caitlyn asks how it will affect their relationship (the two have been the subject of many gossipy stories in the tabloids). Several of the women also disparagingly refer to the "chasers" — men who are fetishistically attracted to transgender women — whose advances they don't exactly welcome.

The dishy chit chat eventually gets around to politics, with tensions flaring as a result. It turns out that Caitlyn is no less a conservative as a woman than Bruce was as a man, leading her friends to fits of frustration as they argue that Republicans don't support the LBGT community the way that Democrats do. Boylan, a Barnard College professor and respected author, gets particularly heated during the exchange.

Referring to Hillary Clinton, Caitlyn declares, "She could care less about women. She cares about herself." (It will be interesting to see the encounter between the two that is briefly teased in the season preview at the end of the episode.)

She goes on to argue, "The Republicans are interested in much bigger issues than the trans issues," saying that the latter won't matter anyway if the Democrats are allowed to destroy the nation's economy the way they've been doing.

It's a brave decision to potentially alienate half of your viewing audience, and it's indicative of the series' frankness and, for a show of this type, its relative seriousness. Yes, it has its silly and trivial moments, such as the footage of the women's helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon that at least showcases some beautiful scenery. But at its best, I Am Cait tackles tricky subject matter with an admirable complexity that may ironically be the reason for its modest ratings.

Premiere date: Sunday, March 6, 9 p.m. ET/PT (E!)

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