I must admit that as a general rule I am not one to watch too many family dramas. The exception to this is Switched at Birth (SAB). The premise is that there are two girl babies who were switched at birth and went home with the ‘wrong’ family. The series begins when the girls are teenagers and the mix-up is discovered. The added plot twist is that one of the girls caught a virus when she was little and is deaf. That sealed the deal for me. Why? Because it is unique and unique is often very difficult to find on television!
While there are all the usual themes that appear in family dramas there is also a whole range of new ones which specifically deal with being deaf. I believe that the SAB team have been very brave in their choices, such as the many scenes where there is little to no spoken dialogue, leaving the viewer in a position where they must invest and pay attention or miss out on something crucial. Never was this required more than in the 9th episode of season 2 (Uprising). This was an ASL (American Sign Language)-only episode. There is minimal talking at the start and the end of the episode and the only other sound is the ambience soundtrack. I found the entire episode compelling. I love the respect that is given to the SAB audience.
It helps that the characters are well developed, starting with the two girls at the centre of the drama. Although Vanessa Marano as Bay Kennish seems like the rich spoilt girl who has had it easy, she often struggles the most with her identity and the events that unfold around her. Katie Leclerc as Daphne Vasquez may have had a harder upbringing but she has a mum who is completely dedicated to her and she has accepted that being deaf is who she is. They both have their strengths and their passions which are interestingly a combination of nurture and nature. Bay is an artist, something she has most likely inherited from her natural mother and Daphne has a keen interest in cooking, just like her natural mother.
Many of the major storylines deal with friendship, love, addiction, faith, betrayal and discovering who you really are. However it is sometimes the secondary storylines that sneak up and touch you the most. I am writing this post now and not months ago because I have just watched the latest episode (episode 2.19 – What Goes Up Must Come Down) where I was incredibly moved by a development with Emmett, his mum, his dad and his dad’s new girlfriend. Emmett’s character evolves dramatically throughout the series and to avoid any spoilers, let’s just say that at the start of the series he is Daphne’s best friend who is also deaf. Throughout the series there is a honesty and depth in all the actors that shine out through their characters.
If you feel like immersing yourself in a family drama with a depth which may challenge some of your views and make you want to come back for more, give SAB a look. After a first season which was extended to 30 episodes it has come back even stronger.
Interested? Catch up on the first season here.
Are you a fan of Switched at Birth? I have really developed a soft spot for Emmett and Travis. Who are your favourites and what would you like to see happen to them in the future? Personally I would love to see Emmett and Travis meet some lovely girls but where would be the drama in that…?