TV Review: E!’s ‘I am Cait’

I am Cait is an eight-part, one-hour documentary series that follows Caitlyn Jenner’s gender transition and its effect on her Kardashian-Jenner family and friends. It debuts Sunday at 8 p.m. on E!. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Based on that first episode, I Am Cait smoothly extends the resounding success of Ms. Jenner’s public transformation and cultural crusade — it accomplishes its inspirational, educational and motivational goals. [...] It doesn’t totally succeed as dramatic reality television, but perhaps that’s to be expected given how high the stakes are, both for the transgender cause and for Ms. Jenner’s personal brand.”
Mike Hale, The New York Times

I Am Cait (July 26 on E!), very un-Kardashians-like in its earnestness, is always conscious of its dual purpose: it’s a personal story played out for an audience of millions, on behalf of a much larger community. The premiere episode is emotional but controlled, much like Jenner’s carefully media-managed coming-out, from her Diane Sawyer primetime interview to the sultry cover of Vanity Fair magazine to her heart-tugging acceptance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN.”
James Poniewozik, Time

“Yet given the wider goals she has espoused, the more the series keeps the spotlight trained squarely on its namesake – and away, even at the periphery, from keeping up with the Kardashians – the better.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“The more appropriate stylistic precursor to Caitlyn Jenner's much ballyhooed new reality series is not Keeping Up With the Kardashians, in which Bruce was often used for comic relief, but rather her sensitive in-depth interview with Diane Sawyer that became a media sensation. Clearly striving to impart serious messages about tolerance of the transgender community while throwing in a few Kardashians for comic relief, I Am Cait emerges as a surprisingly thoughtful if undeniably self-serving effort.”
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

"Even those who actively despise Keeping Up With the Kardashians and the family’s perversely narcissistic determination to do whatever it takes to get publicity, will be genuinely moved by the first episode of I Am Cait. It is honest, funny, heartfelt and compelling. And necessary."
— David WiegandSan Francisco Chronicle

“The stakes, in other words, couldn't be much higher. I Am Cait now has no choice BUT to get this right.”
Verne Gay, Newsday

“Caitlyn Jenner’s E! series is not invasive or insensitive or crass. But it is something far more surprising: a terrible reality show.”
Willa Paskin, Slate

“But the intention is undoubtedly a noble one. Far more than simply providing titillation, or even capitalising on the compulsive curiosity of those who dismiss her transition as some sort of stunt, Jenner wants to help to promote understanding and acceptance for transgender people.”
Jane Mulkerrins, The Telegraph

"If nothing else, it’s clear the debut of Caitlyn Jenner’s show, I Am Cait could be almost as freeing a moment for the former Olympian as revealing her long-sought gender-transformation was earlier this year."
Don KaplanNew York Daily News

"Forget worries that Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show would be a vapid Kardashians retread. Responsible, informative, emotional, and fun, it’s the genre in its highest form."
— Kevin FallonThe Daily Beast