copyright 2016, Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media
Jump Cut
, No. 57, summer 2016

Keeping it real: genre & politics on I Am Cait

by Dan Udy

Having first gained fame for winning gold in the 1976 Olympic decathlon, Caitlyn Jenner—formerly known as Bruce—re-entered the media spotlight in the mid-2000s as the stepfather to Kim Kardashian and a peripheral character in the Reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians (E! Entertainment Television, 2007-present). After separating from her wife Kris in 2013 and moving to a secluded multi-million dollar home in Malibu, California, she began the process of gender transition. In April 2015 she gave an extensive coming out interview to Diane Sawyer while still using her old name and male pronouns (“Bruce Jenner: The Interview” 2015), and shortly afterwards Jenner revealed her new name and appearance in a cover story for Vanity Fair magazine shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz (Bissinger 2015). E! Entertainment Television simultaneously announced its upcoming Reality series I Am Cait that would follow her new life as a transgender woman in the public eye. Through the course of the series viewers watched Jenner meet others in the trans community, reveal herself to family members for the first time, and commission a redesign of her luxury home to reflect her new “feminine” style.

After being renewed by the network, I Am Cait returned to E! for its second season on March 2, 2016 with an episode titled “Politically Incorrect”.  Although season 1 had addressed political issues at various points, such moments fell under the show’s broader focus on Jenner’s journey of self-discovery. In contrast, the season 2 premiere framed upcoming episodes through the lens of tense political conflict, and positioned trans politics at the heart of the show’s season-long story arc. Although season 1 had addressed political issues at various points, such moments fell under the show’s broader focus on Jenner’s journey of self-discovery. In contrast, the season two premiere framed upcoming episodes through the lens of tense political conflict. At its opening, Jenner appears in a video diary segment made just after filming had wrapped. In it, she reflects on the season’s main event—a month-long trip across the United States with a group of trans activists and cultural producers. Here she notes the fierce political debates that arose on the group’s tour bus. A handful of clips follow that document the season’s key dramatic moments, before cutting back to one month earlier and the start of the bus trip preparations.

Since announcing her allegiances to the Republican Party in her Diane Sawyer interview, Jenner has attracted widespread criticism for her comments on passing, same-sex marriage, and welfare. This essay doesn’t seek to simply explore her politics, especially considering that she has made her ideological position repeatedly and patently clear. Instead, it takes her contentious views as a starting point for addressing the complex power dynamic among I Am Cait’s network of participants and producers. Here I focus on how the docu-soap format was politicized by both groups against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential race, and I argue that the show demonstrates a collective form of queer political performance as a result.

The performance of queer politics in Reality TV is hardly new. In 1994, a young gay, HIV-positive Cuban immigrant named Pedro Zamora appeared on season 3 of The Real World (1992-present)—MTV’s seminal Reality series in which a group of strangers are filmed as they live and work together. When later writing on the show, José Esteban Muñoz famously theorized Zamora’s work as a radical moment of queer counterpublicity. [1] [open notes in new window] Two decades later, Laverne Cox followed suit when navigating the demands of producers on season 1 of I Want to Work for Diddy (Vh1, 2006), an Apprentice-inspired competition to find rap mogul P. Diddy’s next personal assistant.[2] Queer roots even go back to the genesis of Reality TV in the PBS documentary series An American Family (1973). As cameras captured a year in the life of the Loud family from Santa Barbara, California, eldest son Lance—a flamboyant, self-deprecating musician who moved to New York to follow his hero, Andy Warhol—quickly became the genre’s first breakout star. The particular mode of queer political performance on I Am Cait, though, is unique in many respects. It draws upon new technological contexts for docu-soap production, new modes of viewer engagement that these technologies have produced, and increased visibility of trans advocates, activists, and public figures over recent years. (

Representational politics—that is, the notion that political equality can be achieved by increasing the number of queer subjects represented in film and television—is by now a clumsy lens through which to approach media texts, and it is not the approach I use here. Nor, I believe, is it the approach taken by the cast members of I Am Cait. Rather, the group use their visibility as trans subjects on a mainstream TV production as a springboard for more direct forms of media activism. In short, the trans cast members of I Am Cait make activist interventions that extend the work of merely being seen: they talk to and about each other, reflect on the content of the program itself, and point outwards to social justice movements beyond the confines of the show. That this takes place during an election season throws the political nature of their performance into especially sharp relief.

Watching the docu-soap: audience interactions online

When announced in June 2015, I Am Cait was billed by E! as an eight-part “docu-series” that would tell Caitlyn Jenner’s ‘intimate story’ and ‘join “Cait” as she seeks out her “new normal”’ (“Watch the First Promo for Caitlyn Jenner’s New Docu-Series on E!” 2015). The marketing of the show as a “docu-series” signalled an attempt by producers to differentiate the programme from the numerous Reality TV productions also broadcast on E!, such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians. As a regular cast-member on the latter before her divorce, Jenner often featured in scenes with her family members—most notably in a two-part episode devoted to her coming out, “About Bruce” (2015)—and she continues to make occasional appearances on the show. This decision by producers to distance I Am Cait from other shows on the network, though, is a significant one, and reflects a broader shift among producers of docu-soap programming away from the umbrella term of “Reality TV.”

To speak of Reality TV as a coherent genre is challenging, if not impossible. As Annette Hill writes, it is ‘a moving target’ that ‘resists a single identity, occupying multiple positions for different groups of people, in various regions and cultures’ (Hill 2014, 9). Its only requirement is that its participants appear as themselves in unscripted—but not necessarily unplanned—situations. The sub-genre of the docu-soap, though, has its own distinct trajectory, and shows such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives have now proliferated through international syndication and franchising to dominate broadcast schedules across the globe. In this essay I focus specifically on the docu-soap, due to its adoption of elements from the earlier documentary genre of Cinéma Vérité. Its relationship to this precursor is a fragile one and results in unique modes of audience behavior. That is, docu-soap viewers are now actively involved in teasing out the separate elements of “documentary” and “soap” in the shows they watch, and the rise of Web 2.0 platforms has enabled this work to take place. As a consequence, these new viewing practices now feed back to shape the production and marketing of docu-soap shows, and are particularly evident in the case of I Am Cait.

Since the docu-soap exploded into public consciousness with The Real World, it has provoked unease among viewers through its indeterminate place between documentary “fact” and entertainment “fiction.”[4] Although its participants are undoubtedly real, their interactions and behaviors may be influenced by footage edits, producer demands, or a combination of the two. Annette Hill has returned to this formal ambiguity and its effects on viewers throughout her work on Reality TV, and she grounds her observations in a wealth of participant-based research. In Restyling Factual TV: Audiences and News, Documentary and Reality Genres she describes how ‘viewers do not experience factual genres in isolation but as part of a chaotic mix of factuality’ (Hill 2007, 2), and she later notes that ‘a queasy feeling’ is now ‘a feature of audience engagement with the genre’ (Hill 2014, 58).[5]

In the mid-2000s, MTV’s “real-life” dramas Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County (2004-2006) and its spin-off The Hills (2005-2009) compounded the formal ambiguity of the docu-soap. Both shows focused on a cast of real affluent teenagers and young adults in southern California, yet indicated a meticulous production process through multiple camera angles, a range of shot types, and flattering lighting. Unlike the Vérité-influenced style of The Real World, producers of Laguna Beach and The Hills instead appeared to take their cues from Hollywood; that the cast were often evasive when questioned about production methods only added to the shows’ mystique. It was not until the end of the final episode—in which a pan out reveals stars Kristen Cavallari and Brody Jenner to be standing on a movie set—that the artifice of both programs is acknowledged, and only recently have cast members revealed how events were staged for the camera.[6] The appeal of Laguna Beach and The Hills for MTV’s young target audience rested on their particular mix of generic forms, and built upon the success of the teen drama series The O.C. (Fox, 2003-2007). Not only did they promise an insight into the community that inspired Fox’s hit series, but they also adopted the latter’s episodic plot structure and co-opted its locations and production techniques. As such, producers capitalized upon audience investment in an already popular fictional program, and amplified this effect by claiming, at least implicitly, that the drama among cast members was all “real.”

The explosion of social media platforms and user-generated web content at the same time as MTV’s new wave of Reality programming, I argue, enabled web users to decipher the new types of media on their screens. In turn, the discursive possibilities of Web 2.0 paved the way for a new relation between audiences and producers. As viewers encountered unsettling hybrids of real life and fiction, they began to unpick the truth claims of such shows. A decade later, cynicism now drives the reception of docu-soap programming by web-savvy viewers. Gossip blogs and social media networks provide platforms for them to investigate the purported “realness” of Reality television and distinguish genuine events from those instigated by production for entertainment value.

For example, journalist Mariah Smith’s column “Keeping Up With the Kontinuity Errors” for the former Gawker Media blog Jezebel uses social media posts and paparazzi photographs to painstakingly decipher the actual filming dates for scenes in  Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Unsurprisingly, it transpires that the chronology of events in the show often fails to correspond to the order in which they were actually filmed, and cast members often feign feelings of anticipation for what has already taken place. “Keeping Up With The Kontinuity Errors” is one of many blogs that work to such effect:

Alongside this user-generated content, web-based gossip outlets such as TMZ and Radar Online also provide scoops on Reality stars and the shows in which they feature. Crucially, social media invariably function as the “evidence” that guides these investigations, and as such, they provide both a means of accessing the documentary “real” and also a platform for disseminating uncovered truths.

From “docu-soap” to “docu-series”

A noticeable shift in docu-soap production methods took place through the early 2010s in response to this widespread cynicism among Reality TV audiences. Producers began to slowly undo the meticulously constructed “Reality” of docu-soap shows by incorporating behind-the-scenes footage that reveals elements of the production process. This trend can best be understood as a return to the principles of Cinéma Vérité (i.e. ‘an attempt to strip away the accumulated conventions of traditional cinema in the hope of rediscovering a reality that eludes other forms of filmmaking’, as theorized by Stephen Mamber (Mamber 1974, 4)). Bill Nichols’ division of documentary into six modes—poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive, and performative—is useful for framing this phenomenon, as older and newer docu-soap styles can be positioned across different categories. While earlier docu-soaps mixed observational and participatory modes through fly-on-the-wall footage and interview segments, recent production styles have moved towards the reflexive mode that ‘calls attention to the assumptions and conventions [of] documentary filmmaking’ (Nichols 2010, 31). In line with these changes, the presentation of shows as “docu-series” marks attempts to re-orient the docu-soap away from Reality television and its implications of trash, exploitation, and entertainment. The guiding definition of “docu-soap,” however, is a serial narrative structure, and as such the moniker of “docu-series” reflects little or no change in production beyond an increased degree of self-reflexivity.

Any changes in production style that do take place are relatively minute, and include a subdued soundtrack, soft lighting and multiple camera angles—often in close-up—for talking head interviews. Prior to I Am Cait, Lindsay—an eight-part series broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2014—demonstrated an early use of these production effects. The show chronicled Lindsay Lohan’s re-adjustment to life after a court-mandated rehabilitation program and followed the hard-worn tropes of docu-soap programming, yet it also featured clashes between Lohan and filmmakers as she proved increasingly difficult to work with. Lindsay was marketed by OWN as a “docu-series,” no doubt to position it more effectively within the Winfrey’s personal brand of authenticity, sincerity, and self-improvement; in this respect it revealed OWN’s ideological attachment to “documentary” as a means of validating “serious” content.[7]

In the case of I Am Cait, early episodes indicated producers’ more explicitly political alignment to “documentary.” Although Jenner—a co-producer on the series—has since scaled back her ambitious rhetoric, she reiterated throughout the first season that her wish was to educate viewers and ‘raise awareness,’ thus bringing about social change. The fraught relationship between I Am Cait and its sister program, though, makes the fragility of this rebrand especially acute. For example, in a post from 16th February 2016, Mariah Smith (KUWTKE)deduced that a scene from Keeping Up With The Kardashians was in fact originally shot for I Am Cait (Smith 2016). Although this doesn’t negate the political potential of I Am Cait, the interchangeability of both shows proves that an apparent shift from “docu-soap” to “docu-series” is at best a producer-led branding exercise. While the label of “docu-series” may provide more direct signposting towards political content, I argue that the docu-soap genre already provides ample scope for political work. As the second season of I Am Cait demonstrates, this labor can be performed in simultaneous opposition to and compliance with the show’s producers, and provides numerous avenues for queer intervention.

Politics and participation

Between the filming of seasons 1 and 2, the political stakes for I Am Cait significantly rose. The backlash against Jenner’s wealth, privilege, and political views arose from many quarters, but particularly from among trans advocates and activists. This also included cast members from the show. For example, a withering blog post from entrepreneur and activist Angelica Ross detailed how her brief appearance had been misleadingly edited to silence her, diminish her accomplishments, and contribute to the show’s “white savior” narrative. Specifically, Ross recalled Jenner’s initial assurance that I Am Cait ‘would be different, not just your ordinary reality show, but a docu-series,’ and accuses Jenner of ‘a gross misuse of power and privilege as an Executive Producer of her own show.’ In light of this, fellow activist, filmmaker and Ross’s close friend Jen Richards did not return to participate in season 2.

For cast members that continued between seasons, their participation did not signal begrudging acceptance of Jenner’s right-wing politics. In fact, many of them were vocal about their disbelief at her views, and the writer and academic Jenny Boylan even disclosed how she tried to quit on the second day of filming.[8] But instead of quitting, Boylan and performer Candis Cayne, artist Zachary Drucker, activist Chandi Moore, writer Kate Bornstein and new cast-member Ella Giselle maneuvered nuanced discussions of trans politics and subjectivity into the heart of the show. Against a backdrop of the 2016 election, the group countered Jenner’s dogged fiscal conservatism with a passionate argument for the value of identity politics, and they used the impact of legislation on transgender lives in order to make their case.[9] This complicates I Am Cait’s power dynamic between producer/star and supporting cast; that Boylan served as a consultant for the show troubles this even further. Her role, however, does not appear in the opening credits, and is only mentioned in a post on her personal website (Boylan 2015). As Nicole Morse argues in their article, identifying the precise nature of the labor performed by trans consultants is a difficult task, and Boylan only revealed the details of her consulting work in an email interview for this article. Having been shown the story arc of each season at its start and then a rough cut of individual episodes, she was able to make final edits before the show aired. She indicates that in the first season she ‘edited quite strongly’ as ‘it was important to me that we get all the language right.’ In the second season, though, ‘there was less of this—I was less concerned with walking on eggshells then, and thought it better that we get messy’ (Boylan 2016c).

Although Boylan’s editorial decisions controlled whether moments of conflict in I Am Cait made it to air, determining whether these discussions themselves were pre-meditated is ultimately a speculative process. Approaching the show through the discursive framework of social media, though, helps to illuminate the motivations behind the cast’s performances, and the political intent of the work they undertake. And as Web 2.0 fostered audience behaviors that ultimately shaped the production of I Am Cait, so too does it provide a lens for unpacking the work of its participants. Figuring such work as performative also draws the group into questions of what “trans media” might mean. For instance, if their intervention is a mode of performance, then what does it say about trans cultural production more broadly?

As Joshua Gamson notes in Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity, sexual and gender minorities regularly appeared on TV screens throughout the 1980s and 90s, but had ‘no choice […] between manipulative spectacle and democratic forum’ (Gamson 1998, 19). Since the emergence of Web 2.0, though, trans subjects have gained agency as both political actors and cultural producers in the field of mainstream media. But if these new technologies have enabled a new form of queer performance, though, and this performance is indeed political, then what exactly are its politics? By looking beyond the cast of I Am Cait’s arguments about Presidential candidates and into their discussions of identity, race, and relationships we can find subtler forms of activism that challenge viewers to re-assess how they relate to those around them. Although partisan politics guides the show’s narrative, it functions as a framing device for this more ambitious project. Here, trans-affirming pedagogy comes with a reconceiving of “community” and “difference” aimed squarely at a mainstream cisgender, heterosexual (cis-het) audience. Although I argue that I Am Cait is borne from cynical viewing cultures, its appeal to sincerity in fact marks a unique turn among docu-soaps that is central to its participants’ community-building efforts. By producing a Vérité-inspired “real” within the framework of Web 2.0, the show encourages its audience to respond directly to the cast’s public pedagogy online. In turn, the “authenticity” of these social media interactions—un-influenced by TV edits and delivered in real time—builds virtual community between cast members and viewers that subsequently affirms the sincerity of the show itself.

In Episode 2 of Season 2, a debate between Bornstein and Boylan exemplifies the cast’s efforts to shift I Am Cait’s focus away from its central star. While the group are riding from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, Jenner’s hair stylist asks Bornstein if the word “tranny” is used among trans women, or if it always offensive. When broadcast, the word was not bleeped, and cast members proceeded to discuss the complex relationship between pejorative slurs and marginalized social groups. Bornstein responds by explaining how the word was first used by the trans community in the 1970s, that she herself identifies as a “tranny,” and that those who find the term offensive are ‘very invested in being women, not trans folk.’ At this point Boylan interjects to point out that she is one of those trans women, and that she finds the word triggering since she previously experienced physical transphobic assaults. Bornstein tells Boylan that she’s not going to stop using the word, and asks Boylan to hear the ‘love and respect’ in her voice when she uses it; Boylan responds by telling Bornstein that Bornstein is ‘asking a lot,’ as it’s ‘not an easy thing for [her] to do’ (“Woman of the Year?” 2016).

Throughout this scene, Jenner sits in the background and only gives a brief comment at the end. And although her distance from the action is self-evident, Bornstein and Boylan’s re-iterated their attempts to move the narrative of I Am Cait beyond the show’s namesake when the clip was shared through social media networks. After the footage was uploaded to YouTube, Boylan tweeted a link to her followers and explained how the scene was: ‘An urgent conversation about trans discourse. And an example of how the CJ show IS ABOUT MORE THAN HER’ (Boylan 2016a). As the season progressed, Boylan provided regular commentary and interacted with fans through Twitter. She explained that she disliked the filming process but was happy with the final result, and pointed viewers towards upcoming topics the group would address (such as trans women’s opinions of drag, employment discrimination, and the experience of trans women of color). Most significantly, she and Bornstein have used Twitter and media interviews to make their political intent for the show resolutely clear: Boylan repeatedly states that I Am Cait is ‘the most progressive, subversive, radical show on TV’ (Glock 2016), and Bornstein posted that she was ‘so proud to be part of #IAmCait: #realityTV in service to #activism, with lotsa heart and slapstick’ (Bornstein 2016).

The pair’s social media posts indicate how Web 2.0 expands the discursive possibilities of docu-soap production. The show’s participants can now parlay brief performances on screen into more nuanced discussions online, and thus extend the life of a few short minutes of footage. While this often related specifically to events in the show, the cast of I Am Cait also used their new profile to engage in public discussions on trans-specific topics: on April 18th 2016, for example, the group held a Twitter conversation on HIV testing and treatment using the hashtag #TransHIVchat. The collectivity of this work echoed their performances during the show itself, in which visible moments of community and sisterhood were evident throughout. In particular, an encounter between the cast and Jenner during episode 2 revealed their collective resistance to the show’s star while also demonstrating the value of difference and diversity among their own small group.

Shortly after Bornstein and Boylan’s “t-word” debate, the whole cast confronted Jenner in a Santa Fe hotel about a particularly heated argument on the tour bus. They told her that they were threatened and intimidated by her aggressive behavior and felt unable to engage in conversation for fear of her response. During the ensuing exchange some cast members also revealed their behind-the-scenes discussions over whether to participate. Boylan and Bornstein had spoken with each other before agreeing to sign on for the season, and they now said that they had expressed reservations about appearing together, given their differing political views and the possibility of conflict that might arise. The two explained how they had ultimately agreed to participate in filming, though, and decided that I Am Cait’s overall positive effects would outweigh any such risks.

Their explanation of this process clearly models the form of inter-personal communication they later claimed as their objective for the show. As with their “t-word” debate, the pair showed how diverse viewpoints are shared even among broad political allies, and that community entails listening and accepting such difference. Indeed, in an ESPN interview they even assert that I Am Cait’s trans content is incidental to their broader political goals. Bornstein explains how:

‘That we are all trans makes the [political] debate easier for people to watch. It’s like, look! Trans, trans, trans! And the deeper stuff is taking place simultaneously.”

Boylan goes further, contextualizing their work against the backdrop of the 2016 election:

“In my opinion, the show is not about Caitlyn Jenner and it's not about trans people. The show is really about: How do we talk to each other? The country is now full of people who disagree. And no matter who wins the White House in November we are still going to have a country where about half the people don't talk to the other half. How do we have a conversation with people with whom we disagree, with respect and love?” (qtd in Glock 2016)

Although Boylan may claim that I Am Cait is ‘not about trans people’, I believe that the show contains a dual function. Its cast members performatively demonstrate ways of understanding and accommodating difference, yet this broad goal of transforming community is inextricable from the trans-affirming pedagogy that it provides. While the show’s majority cis-het viewers are taught how to communicate with love and respect to those that may be different, that very “other”—the trans subject—is visible, present, and speaking on their screen. Not only this, but the show’s participants stage debates and actions that loudly proclaim the validity of trans experience, culminating with repeated acts of civil disobedience in the season 2 finale, “Houston, We Have a Problem.”

Following the repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) by public vote in November 2015—after transphobic campaigns that argued the non-discrimination by-law would allow male paedophiles into women’s bathrooms—Jenner arranged for her cast to travel to Texas to speak with Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and pastors who had backed the repeal efforts. After being warned by Bornstein that they risked the possibility of arrest, the group drove around the city to use multiple public restrooms and left signposts reading ‘trans women used this bathroom with no problems’. Their intervention marked a visible defiance of the Republican-sponsored “bathroom bills” across the United States that have attempted to restrict public restroom access according to gender assigned at birth, yet also pointed to the broader challenges of navigating public space as a gender non-conforming subject. The mediation of group’s protest in Web 2.0 contexts also reflects how technology has been used by queer and trans communities to orient themselves through the gender-regulated public sphere (e.g. the open source web application Refuge Restrooms, which combines mapping software with a user-generated database to direct users to the nearest gender-neutral or gender-inclusive restroom in their area.

I Am Cait’s trans participants, then, are visible, vocal, and political actors, yet they also speak and perform to complicate the notion of what or who a trans subject is. Throughout their many group discussions, cast members publicly challenge normative assumptions about trans subjectivity. In particular, they work to deconstruct a singular, unifying model of trans womanhood. Not only is Jenner’s role as the supposed face and voice of the trans community quickly dismantled, but so too is any notion of a fixed trans experience that binds the rest of the cast. Thus, while Borstein sees “tranny” as a ‘family word’, Boylan finds it offensive, and while Cayne and Moore express a love of drag, Boylan finds it problematic. In this way, cis viewers are reminded that trans identity is articulated on each individual’s own terms, and that being an ally to the trans community entails stepping back and learning to listen.

As an extension of this work on trans subjectivity, then, the show’s cast—the majority of whom are independent cultural producers—also challenge the notion of trans cultural production as a coherent genre or set of cultural practices. I Am Cait is a performative media production by and about trans people, but to label it a work of “trans media” perhaps misses the point. Indeed, the show is generative precisely because it unpacks the very notion of singularity or unity on which a coherent genre relies.


1. cf. “Pedro Zamora’s Real World of Counterpublicity: Performing an Ethics of the Self” (Muñoz 1999). [return to text]

2. In a 2014 interview with Buzzfeed, Cox explains how she refused to fight with a fellow contestant as she ‘didn’t want to give television the satisfaction of seeing two black women going at it’ (Jones 2016). In “A double-take on reality television: Laverne Cox’s political and pedagogical gestural humor”, Nicole Morse further explicates Cox’s intervention on I Want to Work for Diddy through the lens of gestural humor (Morse 2016).

The premiere of The Real World in 1992 marked the first emergence of the docu-soap as it is known today. Although PBS’s An American Family had moulded cinema vérité footage into a soap opera-style story arc in 1973, MTV’s incorporation of video diary interviews among fly-on-the-wall footage quickly became the standard for the genre.

5. ‘Gary Carter (2013) calls Grey Gardens an early example of reality TV because it gives the viewer a ‘clear sense that they are performing for the camera in a way that makes you feel really queasy.’ This queasy feeling would become a feature of audience engagement with the genre.’ (Hill, 2015, 58)

6. In an interview on Bethenny Frankel’s talk show bethenny, Cavallari revealed that her on-screen relationship with Jenner was entirely fabricated, and that a confrontation with his supposed ex-girlfriend was staged (bethenny 2016). Subsequently, the MTV special The Hills: That Was Then, This is Now detailed the editing and production process in a series of interviews with star Lauren Conrad and members of the crew (“The Hills: That Was Then, This is Now”, 2016).

7. The “About” page from OWN’s YouTube channel reflects the personal brand cultivated by Winfrey through her many years on daytime TV: ‘OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey's heart and creative instincts inform the brand—and the magnetism of the channel. […]OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities’ (“OWN” 2016).

8. ‘On the second day of filming, I tried to quit the show. I had a lengthy conversation with the show-runner saying, “I just can’t do this. I want to go home.”  There is footage of this somewhere.’ (Boylan 2016b)

9. For example, in the season 2 finale Boylan tells Jenner that ‘Republicans—your people—they don’t like us’ when discussing the overturned the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) (“Houston, We Have a Problem” 2016).

Works cited

bethenny. 2016. Kristin Cavallari on “The Hills”: Dating Brody Jenner and Fight with Jade Were Faked. Accessed May 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx9TgWHQAas.

Bissinger, Buzz. 2015. “Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story.” Vanity Fair, July.

Bornstein, Kate. 2016, March 23. https://twitter.com/katebornstein/status/712432597742313473.

Boylan, Jennifer. 2015. “Jenny Boylan on Caitlyn Jenner: The Big Dress Theory.” August 14. http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2015/08/14/jenny-boylan-on-caitlyn-jenner-the-big-dress-theory/.

———. 2016a, March 11. https://twitter.com/jennyboylan/status/708360325926678528.

———. 2016b. “Caitlyn Jenner, Ted Cruz, and the Flavor of Tarantulas.” April 4. http://www.jenniferboylan.net/2016/03/04/caitlyn-jenner-ted-cruz-and-the-flavor-of-tarantulas/.

———. 2016c. Personal correspondence, July 13.

“Bruce Jenner: The Interview.” 2015. ABC News. ABC.

Gamson, Joshua. 1998. Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Glock, Allison. 2016. “The Conversation with Transgender Icons Jennifer Finney Boylan and Kate Bornstein.” espnW. Accessed April 21. http://espn.go.com/espnw/voices/article/15216850/the-conversation-transgender-icons-jennifer-finney-boylan-kate-bornstein.

Hill, Annette. 2007. Restyling Factual TV: Audiences and News, Documentary and Reality Genres. London ; New York: Routledge.

———. 2014. Reality TV. Key Ideas in Media and Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.

“Houston, We Have a Problem.” 2016. I Am Cait. E! Entertainment Television.
Jones, Saeed. 2016. “Laverne Cox Is The Woman We’ve Been Waiting For.” BuzzFeed. Accessed May 3. http://www.buzzfeed.com/saeedjones/laverne-cox-is-the-woman-weve-been-waiting-for.

Mamber, Stephen. 1974. Cinema Verite in America: Studies in Uncontrolled Documentary. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Morse, Nicole. 2016. “A Double-Take on Reality Television: Laverne Cox’s Political and Pedagogical Gestural Humor.” Feminist Media Studies, April, 1–13.

Muñoz, José Esteban. 1999. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Cultural Studies of the Americas, v. 2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Nichols, Bill. 2010. Introduction to Documentary (2nd edition). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

“OWN.” 2016. YouTube. Accessed May 3. https://www.youtube.com/user/OWN.

Richards, Jen. 2016, March 14. https://twitter.com/smartassjen/status/709463084784439296.

Smith, Mariah. 2016. “Keeping Up With the Kontinuity Errors: Yup, Kendall Was Furious at Caitlyn Over the VS Fashion Show.” Jezebel. February 16. http://jezebel.com/keeping-up-with-the-kontinuity-errors-yup-kendall-was-1759498756.

The Hills: That Was Then, This is Now. 2016. MTV.

“Watch the First Promo for Caitlyn Jenner’s New Docu-Series on E!” 2015. E! Online. June 3. http://www.eonline.com/news/662536/caitlyn-jenner-starring-in-new-e-docu-series-i-am-cait.

“Woman of the Year?” 2016. I Am Cait. E! Entertainment Television.