It’s been 7 years since the polarizing E! series featuring former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner premiered. It would be the final summer before the chaotic Trump Presidency, before the crippling pandemic or the war… and before the war on transgender people hit a fever pitch.
I’ll admit that I’ve never before watched anything involving the Kardashians, at least up until now. On an evening channel surf on one of those particularly lulling days, I discovered they had a brand new series on Hulu. “What more could these people have to show us?” I thought to myself as I pressed play. As I watched these very polished, very practiced celeb figures that ensconced the obsession our culture has with youth and beauty, I decided to watch their original show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, which began a historic 20 season run way back in 2007. My insatiable curiosity got the best of me.
Within three episodes it’s quite clear the Kardashians are pretty awful people. By episode 3, the girls are complaining about a homeless man on the street outside their shop. They’re unfathomably distressed that he will ruin business and refer to him as “creepy” as they walk around shaking their hands anxiously and making gagging sounds. The rest of the show is them posturing themselves as heroes, taking the man in, humiliating him by forcing him to let them watch him shower as they squee with delight at his expense.
I’d had enough. But as I watch I also noticed one through-line throughout those early episodes no one remembers, and that was their vile treatment of Caitlyn- then the family Patriarch- pre transition. Like some obnoxious fly, they didn’t seem to ever want her in the room. They mocked her when she spoke, laughed anytime she attempted to enforce any authority, made fun of her clothes, addressed her in that whiny, sarcastic and condescending tone and frequently dismissed her altogether. Knowing how that particular story ended made it a little more tolerable, with Caitlyn emerging from that painful past as a beautiful, empowered woman finally living in her truth.
And then she opened her mouth and we cartwheeled downhill so fast we cut trees in half. A monumental disaster that somehow is still unfolding. But well before Caitlyn Jenner ran for governor, or announced herself a proud Trump supporter, or condemned trans inclusion in…