Photos: HBO; E!

I Am Fran

Sarah D. Bunting is not a crackpot. She just thinks Caitlyn Jenner has everything it takes -- starting with much-needed goodwill -- to take over as True Detective's head baddie in charge.

I don't want to pick on Vince Vaughn's performance in True Detective, and by "I don't want to," I mean exactly that. I don't mean "I actually do want to, but it's unseemly," which has a truth in it, and I don't mean "it's the bombast-gargle dialogue I in fact have the issue with," though it is, and Vaughn's evident distaste for the "where's them wetback hoochies hole up" line inclines me even less to hammer him specifically. I mean that I have, because there remains, nothing left to say about it. I mean that, after five episodes, it's no longer a good use of anyone's time to scribble down things like "'I have a sense of justice; you know that' -- VV face direx? 'sit on beehive'?"

But last night's True Detective had a number of stretches so overwrought that they looped back around into self-important tedium: the opening standoff between Velcoro and Semyon, about half again as long as it needed to be (but a highwire performance from Colin Farrell); Velcoro's visit to the man who attacked his ex, unwisely undertaken for the character and apparently checked out of by ep director Miguel Sapochnik -- and I can't say I blame him, because it's likewise dull and overlong, but a guy in a headset telling Farrell to knock it off with the Bale-Batman voice might have perked shit up a bit; and Bez molly-ucinating her childhood molestor, of COURSE, because every woman in the True Detectiverse is a scar-wrapped victim, an uptight rag, or both, and God forbid we just leave it at "having a cult leader for a father might fuck you up in ways." And yes, that sequence went on for a couple days as well. It's Episode 6, the clubhouse turn, and when Velcoro went on his bender and I raised the question with my actor spouse of what productions use to simulate cocaine, and whether he ever had to snort what looks like confectioner's sugar, I didn't pause the episode. Why bother? Twenty-four hours later, if that, Velcoro is in fine enough fettle to participate in a non-credible Mission Impozzzzzzible scoop-and-run operation with Woodrugh to rescue Bez and her missing person from the party. Sure. Everybody go buy a Chevy. Whaaaaatever.

I had plenty of time to think about other things, is my point: what happened to Sprague Grayden's career; is it bulk collection this Sunday or next; shows I would rather watch instead. Shows like I Am Cait. I thought about Caitlyn Jenner rocking that white dress at the Espys. I thought about her wearing all those blue diamonds and brandishing a nail gun with Lee Press-On Nails instead of the carpentry kind. I thought about her on set, reading the script and soothingly telling Rachel McAdams, "Honey, I was in Can't Stop The Music. This shit ain't shit."

Now I can't stop longing for us all to get in a time machine and return to a period at which it was still possible to cast Cait Jenner as Fran Semyon. ("Franny"? "Frankie"? I ain't picky.) Because...

I don't think at this point that Vince Vaughn would have a problem driving said time machine.

Everyone loved the casting when it was announced. Everyone hates it now, though I think the consensus is that, between the "gold, Jerry!" speeches he has to give tertiary children and the direction he's regrettably not getting to bail the line readings out of workshop territory, it's not his fault. But if he had it to do again he'd do Swingers: The New Class instead.

True Detective needs a dimensional lady villain.

This is one thing about Cait: she's still of formidable size, six foot two and nearly two bills. Watching Fran Semyon unfold herself from a negotiating table to a full height, in heels, of six six is a rad visual.

What would really make it go, though, is that Caitlyn Jenner basically announced at the top of the I Am Cait premiere that she IS there to make friends. I've never watched Kardashian product before, but Caitlyn has always projected a very likable, almost eager persona; it undercut her badassery to a degree, actually, back in her living-as-Bruce athletic heyday. Vaughn is going for "pleasant with a menacing undercurrent" thing that isn't a dime he can quite turn on yet, because our association with him is not in fact "pleasant," really. "Funny," sure. "Nice guy," not exactly.

Caitlyn? Suuuuuuper-nice. Self-effacing. Wheaties-boxer. Seeing a source get nailgunned in the reflection of her excellent sunglasses is going to resonate on a bunch of levels.

She can do her own stunts.

Running, leaping over shit, driving (with apologies to the victims of that pap wreck; I'm referring to her auto-racing stint in the mid-eighties).

She could get Kanye to guest.

And various Kardashians. I don't hate the idea of an Armenian-Mafia subplot; I have zero doubt Kim could sell it as a cold-blooded capitalist in a custom skirt suit.

She's used to execrable scripts.

See above re: Can't Stop The Music, and she didn't turn up onscreen again until Jack & Jill, both nominated for Razzies (I think CSTM won). I didn't see the latter, but Caitlyn, then Bruce, is not terrible in the former, rockin' the boy-bowl 'do and the cut-off shirt AND micro-jorts. Behold:

...I know, it's a lot. Take a minute, collect yourself.

So: Caitlyn has seen some shit, not just as a transwoman but as a human who lived through the entire '70s and '80s. She can bring a depth of feeling to Pizzolatto's baked-on, caked-on, stuck-on corruption and power-noir pessimism while existing in a lane of American triumph and reassurance that would make the character more intimidating, and will mean I spend less of each True D ep playing Capitals and wishing I were watching I Am Cait instead. I am not a crackpot.

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