Caitlyn Jenner. Picture: Netflix
Caitlyn Jenner. Picture: Netflix

Netflix’s doccie feature unpacks the long race in the final hurdle to becoming Caitlyn Jenner

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Sep 5, 2021

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To understand the journey of Caitlyn Marie Jenner, one has to first understand the challenges and insecurities of Bruce Jenner and how it spurred him on to become a gold medal Olympian winner.

That is how the narrative of “Untold: Caitlin Jenner” plays out for just over an hour.

Before coming out to the world as a transwoman in a “20/20” interview with Diane Sawyer in 2015, she lived a conflicted existence as Bruce.

This doccie-feature is part of Netflix’s “Untold” five-part series, which unpacks epic tales of prominent figures from the sports world.

In the intro, Caitlyn says, “I’ve always had these issues going through me, but without them, I don’t think I would have ever accomplished what I did.

“I was just so average. Actually, I was below average. I was dyslexic and I had identity issues.”

Much of the show, which is directed by Crystal Moselle, is told through archived video footage and photos of Bruce as a child to a decathlon athlete.

In honouring him, she says, “You know what, Caitlyn was always living down deep inside.”

Before delving into the past and how sport became a sort of salvation for Bruce, we first see Caitlyn petting her two furry friends, laughing at a fun memory triggered by a picture of his now-famous daughters, Kendal and Kylie and then pointing to a World Guinness Records certificate for the fastest time to reach 1 million followers on Twitter - she achieved this in four hours and three minutes.

And she was pretty chuffed to have pipped former US President Barack Obama by an hour.

Back to being Bruce, she pointed out how her life changed forever at a gym class in 5th Grade.

Growing up, Bruce always felt different in his soul and sport was his coping mechanism and escape.

When he was around 10/11 years, Bruce would sneak into his moms closet, trying things on, putting on some lipstick. Back then, this was taboo.

Bruce later attended Graceland College in Iowa. That’s where he met his first wife, Chrystie Scott (née Crowner), who features in the film.

His boy-next-door charm swept her off her feet.

When Bruce was injured during a football match, playing for the Graceland Yellowjackets, he was in limbo until decathlete coach, L.D. Weldon took him under his wing and ignited the flame that eventually saw Bruce win the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.

During his years of training, and being married to Scott, he was inspired to beat the best - Soviet’s Mykola Avilov.

He achieved it at age 26. Thereafter, he got an all-American hero welcome. He was sought-after by talk show hosts, inundated with endorsement deals and acting opportunities.

Although he did everything to prove his masculinity to the world, the internal battle continued and, eventually, despite having two children - Burt and Cassandra “Casey” Marino - with Chrystie, they divorced.

Caitlyn Jenner’s son, Bruce, from his first marriage. Picture: Supplied

The story jumps to 1984, where he happened upon a TV report on transsexuals. It was then that he decided to sit down with a professional.

Caitlyn’s recollection of this period is juxtaposed with an interview with Burt, reflecting on how his dad’s struggles impacted him.

The time frame then shifts to Bruce’s romance with Kris and their public separation in 2015. This was after several seasons of being on “Keeping up with the Kardashians”.

TMZ was the first to break the news about his gender reassignment.

Caitlyn admitted it was difficult as she was a better parent and didn’t want her kids finding out in this way.

The final hurdle was one of faith and God, and to be accepted.

The 70-something transgender rights activist achieved many milestones in her career. And it is something to be proud of.

This feature certainly explores some of them. But you can’t help but feel that it was a half-baked effort to capture Caitlyn’s life story.

Bruce’s second marriage to Linda Thompson, with whom he has two sons, Brandon and Brody, was completely glossed over.

The Kardashian family was mentioned but no one was actually interviewed, either.

In the end, the viewer feels a sense of abandonment for Caitlyn.

Where she once lived a life surrounded by loved ones and happy moments, it is now replaced by photos and memories.

She ended with: “Now it’s a new chapter, let’s see what Caitlyn can do. End of story.”

“Untold: Caitlyn Jenner” is currently streaming on Netflix.

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