With this entry, I’m introducing a new line of posts that will come as I discover new shows, called New Obsessions. Meaning shows that have been recommended and shows that I’ve discovered that I am now completely addicted to.
Considering how much I’ve been talking about my love of various Sci-Fi(SyFy) shows, I’m going to change it up a little.
About two weeks ago, I discovered a new show on ABC Family called “Switched at Birth”. My initial desire to watch this show, stemmed from the fact that one of main actresses (Vanessa Marano) played Luke’s daughter on Gilmore Girls, I adored her in that show, and I was happy to see that she was in something new. Upon further research, I discovered that the rest of the cast was pretty awesome as well, Lea Thompson, Lucas Grabeel, and D.W. Moffet all star in the show. .
As great as all these actors are, I wasn’t sure if all of this was enough to get me to watch the show. ABC Family has kind of been a hit and miss channel for me when it comes to awesome TV shows. Greek was amazing, though I could personally do without Secret Life of an American Teenager. When I finally found the plot synopsis for Switched at Birth, I knew that this show had to be in my life… LIKE NOW!
Switched at Birth, a one-hour scripted drama, tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital. Bay Kennish grew up in a wealthy family with two parents and a brother, while Daphne Vasquez, who lost her hearing at an early age due to a case of meningitis, grew up with a single mother in a working-class neighborhood. Things come to a dramatic head when both families meet and struggle to learn how to live together for the sake of the girls.
(synopsis from ABC Family website)
This show introduces something that is rarely seen on TV. Deaf culture. I don’t consider myself to be a guru when it comes to Deaf culture, but I am knowledgeable enough to know my way around it (meaning I took ASL for two years and know how to be polite, the rest is gone). It’s not uncommon for Deaf culture to be kind of hidden, I mean, it’s a little difficult to showcase a community that rarely speaks verbally, but Switched at Birth allows everyone to see how beautiful American Sign Language and the Deaf culture is. Now, not only does it showcase the beautiful language, but the actors that play the deaf characters, are actually deaf or hard of hearing actors. With the exception of Marlee Matlin (A well known deaf actress, who does make a few appearances in this series), deaf actors seem to only make appearances as guest stars. Having full time deaf actors, is something that I personally haven’t seen.
Katie LeClerc (plays Daphne Vasquez) and Sean Berdy (Emmett) are two promising actors who who have both, already been nominated for the Teen Choice awards in the category of TV Breakout Actor and Actress. They also happen to be deaf. Both actors show amazing skill in this show, with showcasing their lovely language and community, while also being very relateable to those who don’t share their same affliction.
What I really love about this show is that they don’t COMPLETELY focus on the Deaf culture, don’t get me wrong, all the stuff about deaf culture could be it’s own character, but that’s not the main focus. The focus of the show is about these two, incredibly different families, trying to become one.
The two main characters, Daphne Vasquez (Katie LeClerc) and Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano), are as different as you expect them to be. Bay, though privileged, seems intent on acting out, whether its privately in her own studio, or tagging the side of a building with her signature Axe Girl. Daphne, used to and happy with just the bare minimum, is having to train her new family on her needs, making her still feel like a bit of an outsider. The two find comfort in the fact that they are the only two people who know exactly how the other is feeling, which brings a bond that they didn’t initially expect.
Kathryn Kennish (Lea Thompson) and John Kennish (D.W. Moffet) have some pretty fantastic chemistry for an established couple. They work really well has the family heads of house. With the addition of Regina Vasquez (Constance Marie), and her Latina flavor, their parenting styles tend to clash a little, which adds for some pretty great bickering scenes, and some truly beautiful mother-to-mother scenes between Kathryn and Regina.
Toby Kennish (Lucas Grabeel) and Emmett (Sean Berdy) both play brothers (or brother figure) in different forms. Toby is the typical brother, messing up the girls’ hair, teasing them mercilessly, while still asking for favors when it suits him. Though we’re only slowly learning new things about Toby, his interaction with his sisters, is very genuine. Emmett on the flip side, though not actually a brother to either of the girls, is incredibly sweet and over protective of them. He helps when he can and does so without asking for anything in return. Emmett’s story is also just beginning, his relationship with Daphne seems to be a particularly interesting one.
This show is just starting, having aired its 7th episode just this past Monday (July 18th), there are many different paths this show could choose to take. I really hope that it gets the attention that it deserves.
Switched at Birth airs Monday nights on ABC Family.