On Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST, E! airs the first installment of its much-anticipated, eight-part docuseries I Am Cait, detailing the life and trials of Caitlyn Jenner. For those expecting an up-close examination of the transition process, or even one last glimpse of timid patriarch Bruce, be warned: This is not that kind of show. From the opening scene, in which a sleepless Jenner sits wide-eyed and makeup-free in bed at 4:30 a.m., it's clear that we are in the presence of new life.
Throughout the hour-long episode, the screen practically breathes with excitement as she interacts with her children, her mother, and her new closet full of Diane von Furstenberg, Tom Ford, and Derek Lam. It's hard to critique a show as brave as this one, but here, the incredible moments from the premiere of I Am Cait:
Jenner's on-the-mark comments about the trans community: Not once does the 65-year-old seem overly burdened by what she states is a "lot of responsibility." From pronouncements such as "I hope I get it right" to welcome comments on how wealth and privilege have eased some of the more difficult aspects of her transition—"It's not like this for everyone," she admits—Jenner hits the right notes.
Kanye: The mercurial rapper isn't always known for adding levity to a situation, but everything from his goofy, stifled grin—he's a bit uncomfortable!—to watching him interact with his in-laws lends an air of authenticity to the situation.
The meditative close-ups: Though we have only been presented with Photoshopped versions of the lithe star (and a star she really is), I Am Cait doesn't shy away from getting close to its subject.
Esther Jenner: Oh, moms. The nervous energy emanating off Caitlyn as she awaits the arrival of her pint-size mother is crazy relatable: "It's my mother," she moans like a teenager. "Godddd." But though the 88-year-old toggles between acceptance—"I will get used to this. Oh, yes, I will," she insists—and fear (the Bible is mentioned), she never stops feeling authentic in her complicated love for her children.
The one-liners: The first thing Kim Kardashian says to her ex-stepfather? "I didn't know you were on Twitter!" And the former Olympic gold medalist's reply is equally snappy: "I love records." (Kardashian reports that Jenner amassed one million followers more quickly than President Obama.)
THE LESS GOOD
The production: Hey, after all, it's an E! show. Expect a lot of dramatic music, repeated soundbites after commercial breaks, and lightening-quick pacing.
The didactic element: This was unavoidable, of course. In telling Jenner's story, it was imperative that the network address the community at large and the attention it deserves. But, at times, the activism feels forced. Especially when Jenner—after a caper-like evasion of the paparazzi—visits with the parents of late trans teen Kyler Prescott.
The less-real moments: While visiting with her sisters and mom, Jenner "accidentally" accepts a FaceTime from daughter Kylie, whom we're told is feeling a little "loopy" after a dentist appointment. "You're not scaring me," the 17-year-old purrs sweetly. "You look pretty." It's a nice sentiment, but a later home visit from the teen makes you sincerely hope that the pair's first and second encounters weren't on pain medication and on-camera, respectively.