A docu-series following Bruce Jenner’s new life as a woman has reached out to a group of transgender and mental health experts as consultants.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the eight-part series I Am Cait, which is scheduled to premiere on E! July 26, is deviating in tone from the network’s standard reality television programming, and the delicate nature of the show’s subject matter warranted some outside help.
To keep things in check, E! has brought in three transgender consultants and two therapists, in addition to GLAAD board of directors national co-chair Jennifer Finney Boylan.
While the network has not commented on the hires or made any of the consultants available to the media, THR reached out to others in the transgender community for comment.
Eight transgender individuals relayed to the industry news site a mixture of hope and anxiety about how the series would represent their movement, and questioned if E! would make Jenner a symbol for the entire community.
“She’s very atypical,” actress and activist Calpernia Addams, who prepared Jared Leto prior to production of Dallas Buyers Club, said of Bruce Jenner’s new identity.
Gender Diversity founder Aidan Key told THR “even if the message that E! ends up sending isn’t perfect, visibility and representation of transgender lives in the media has a pretty significant value.”
Boylan’s presence seems to quell worries that the show might take advantage of the transgender community, which is currenty a popular source for programming.
Dr. Michael LaSala, an associate professor at Rutgers’ School of Social Work, said, “It’s hard to imagine that she’d [Boylan] be involved in something exploitative.”
While the series is being marketed as a documentary of Bruce’s journey, reviews from the first episode reveal the show may be guilty of catering to E!’s broader reality TV audience.
Variety TV columnist Brian Lowry writes I Am Cait brings Jenner’s famous daughters and stepdaughters onto the show, and features a visit from Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West.
“While Jenner’s interactions with her extended family are clearly part of the narrative,” Lowry wrote, “there’s a pandering quality to shoehorning the couple and daughter Kylie into the premiere, as if E! and the producers needed a security blanket to make sure they catered to that audience too.”