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Here’s Why Caitlyn Jenner Shouldn’t Join the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’

2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter
Axelle, Getty Images

While the ladies of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills—a lineup which currently includes Kyle Richards, Lisa Vanderpump, Lisa Rinna, Dorit Kemsley, Erika Jayne/Girardi and Eileen Davidson—continues to have one of its most deliciously drama-ridden seasons yet (Pantygate! Lisa Rinna vs. Kim Richards, Round 2! Drug smoothies!), a surprising casting rumor has caught fans’ attention.

Caitlyn Jenner is allegedly in talks to join the hit series, which is currently in its seventh season. With a memoir on the way later this year, The Secrets of My Life, the timing would be right for the former Olympian and Keeping Up With the Kardashians star to step back into the reality TV spotlight.

As NewNowNext points out, “It would also make her brand more distinct from ex-wife Kris Jenner’s series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, E!’s flagship show.”

It’s a fair point. But remember: Jenner’s own breakout show, I Am Cait, was canceled after just two seasons, with Season 2 bringing in its lowest-rated episode with just 480,000 viewers, according to Variety. Was it Kardashian-related fatigue that did it in? Waning interest in Jenner’s journey and day-to-day lifestyle? Frustration with the trans icon’s seemingly contradictory political behavior and beliefs?

And here’s the thing: Highlighting LGBTQ+ representation within the Real Housewives franchise—a property belonging to Bravo, one of television’s most gay-friendly networks—is more than just a welcome idea. It’s necessary and important.

While Real Housewives has flirted with having trans cast members before—model Lauren Foster appeared on the now-cancelled Miami show, and actress Amiyah Scott/Star was reportedly previously invited to join the Atlanta cast before quitting—the show has never, to public knowledge, had a primary cast member who is trans. But Caitlyn Jenner is probably not the best fit to be its first, when there are so many other progressive figures within the trans community who would be a wonderful addition to the glitzy series.

Viewers have already had enough opportunities to watch Jenner on television—from the Kardashians to her own spin-off, where she showed that outside of the Kardashian petri dish she’s not all that interesting on her own. (Which is fine, whatever, just not great for reality TV.) While the activist has tried in some ways to be a positive force within the LGBTQ+ community, and is more than allowed to stumble along the way, the often tone-deaf star has hit a sour note more times than not, responding aloofly to the notion of same-sex marriage during an Ellen interview (“At first, I was not for it”) and vehemently supporting GOP politicians who don’t give a damn about LGBT rights (and, worse, often legislate against them).

As a wealthy white celebrity, Jenner is the epitome of white and economic privilege — and to be fair, so are the other women on the show’s cast, which is why diversity would do everyone some good. Jenner calls herself a “conservative Republican” while ignoring or perhaps not fully grasping the persecution and real-life struggles of other marginalized women, particularly trans women of color, who are often victims of abuse, violence and murder. (In 2017 alone, at least seven trans women of color have been murdered.)

As a trans woman, Caitlyn Jenner does not need to be a perfect LGBTQ+ advocate. That would be an unfair expectation. But as Jenner continues to reconcile her personal journey with her conservative politics, Bravo and its viewers might benefit from casting someone with less baggage and more personality, like Jenner’s former I Am Cait co-star Candis Cayne, Strut stars Cassandra Cass and Isis King, or Los Angeles-based activist Bamby Salcedo.

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