Switched at Birth, Season One Volume One (2011)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Switched at Birth
Ever since I was a young teenager, I have been fascinated with ASL – or interpreting through sign. Don’t ask me why as there was no reason for it (no one in my family had need of it) other than I found it an interesting form of communication. When I was about twenty I took a once-a-week class comprised of home-school kids that lasted barely six months because the teacher had a career and her students were so busy running around with other activities that it just wasn’t worth anyone’s time and effort. Now all I am left with is a book I bought off of Amazon, the alphabet (and even at that, it would probably be best not to ask me to sign anything beyond my own name *wink*) and still, a lingering interest.
When news of this ABC Family Channel series surfaced, both my mother and I were curious, and with its recent arrival on DVD, I rented the first disc, eager that it would be so much more than just a teen drama. Read on to find out what approach Switched at Birth takes to an out-of-the-ordinary concept.

It started out as nothing more than a simple science project at school, and practical joking (including one that mom had an affair!) between Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) and her close-knit family. Science class shouldn’t hold a potential to change a sixteen-year-olds life and turn it upside down but that is exactly what  Bay’s does when the class project comes back with the result that her blood type in not the same as her parents, John and Kathryn (D.W. Moffat, Lea Thompson) or her brother Toby (Lukas Grabeel). This leads the family to find that Bay is not who they thought she was. The hospital made a mistake with the I.D. bracelets and the Kennish family took home the wrong baby – and has been raising someone else’s daughter for sixteen years. Their discovery sends them to meet single mother Regina Vasquez (Constance Marie) and their biological daughter, Daphne (Katie Leclerc). Kathryn is so overwhelmed and overjoyed at meeting her daughter for the first time that she and John are not prepared for anything that might stand in the way of them getting to know their daughter.

As a child, Daphne caught an infection that severely damaged her hearing. She has worked hard to overcome her physical limitations and she speaks well and can read lips easily but as a result of her childhood ailment, she cannot hear conversations only residual background noises, making it impossible for her to converse with others in large groups save for sign language. Having made the bulk of his money playing major league baseball and now as owner of a well-known car wash chain, John is a wealthy, independent man who immediately sees he has an opportunity to help the daughter he never knew existed. Regina does not see it that way. She has had to fight for every cent she has earned and she sees these people as just another wealthy “white family” who think throwing money at things solves everything. This time, that notion couldn’t be farther from the right solution.
Conflict and drama, sorrow and forgiveness are basically the patterns that volume one of this freshman seasonal show follows. In my reviewing I have tried to be – and hopefully succeeded to a certain extent considerate of the subject material in movies and television shows, but I hope I have also been honest as to whether or not I have enjoyed something for entertainment purposes despite its immoralities. Never am I saying it is right for anyone else to watch, I am only letting you all know my own opinion on its merits. The first two episodes of this show are beautiful – and it’s for good reason. They never stray off the path of being overly sappy (again, this is strictly my opinion) nor does it abuse its platform as a teen drama aimed towards that age-group. Instead it allows the characters to be the heart without getting all caught up in the usual teen drama like boyfriends and curfew. It does make me happy to be able to report that when it comes to some of the filthy material kids fill their minds with today, the first part of season one is relatively wholesome.

This is the first non-crime drama show airing on a major network that has really sucked me into its premise. Sure, I have fallen under spells of other television personas that have nothing to do with solving crimes (case in point: Downton Abbey – which when one thinks about it really cannot be coupled with American television) but this one is a part of ABC Family Channel’s weekly line-up and contrary to what potential viewers might think, it has a lot to offer. Volume one consists of ten episodes and the writing builds some wonderful chemistry between the characters and its subplots. It also boasts some intrigue with a sprinkling of mystery here and there – the kind that makes you want to pop in the next episode just to see where it leads. Usually it isn’t something all that earth-shattering, meaning it isn’t difficult to figure out but nonetheless, the series still has a pull that is really interesting.

If you prefer television with more bite or of a more intelligent nature, you might find that Switched at Birth doesn’t hold your attention but if you are willing to overlook a few flaws in a story that actually has the perspective to be something more than its outward appearance, then this is worth a look-see. The acting is really nothing to sneeze at, not to mention the fact that the kids were well cast against their on-screen parents. Resemblances are easy to spot and I found many of the emotionally-charged scenes came across with genuine emotions that not only serve to envelop us in their sorrow but make us agree with certain of the characters arguments. As hard as it was for all parties involved, some handled it with a lot more grace than others. The show is an interesting concept that I hope writers realize is special, and do not waste it... because if they do, it will be a shame. 
(Parental review, this show is rated TV14 because of a handful of near-sexual encounters between teenagers; two of them progress to some lip-locks and removal of clothing [one of which in the back of a car], the other shows two teens at a park making out. [Some minor innuendo is present - and adults are seen lying in bed together once.] Parents worry that their kids are intimate with their boyfriends. Some minor profanity pops up here and there but nothing worse than an OMG or sh*t. Lying comes easily for some characters; one was an alcoholic and another teen is addicted to gambling and steals the answers to a test to make right on the debt.) 


  1. Ehhh...it sounds interesting... but because it's on ABC Family I'm thinking I won't watch it. Most of ABS Family's shows are most definitely *not* family friendly :P
    But the signing sounds really interesting to me :) I've been off and on obsessed with ASL since I was probably ten. This was a great review!

  2. Great review. I've been really curious about this premise horrifies and fascinates me.

  3. Trinka - totally agree with you about ABC Family Channel not living up to their name. I see a lot of their "original" movies, and although they are usually really cute, they are NOT family-friendly. =)

    Thanks - glad you enjoyed this review. I really wound up liking the show, despite its flaws.

    Juju - thanks. this was a great show. I liked it a LOT more than I thought - and the moments that are meant to be emotional seem so genuine even if it does get caught up in the teen love triangles on occasion, still it is sweet. =)

  4. Hey, Rissi! :) I awarded/tagged you! :)

  5. Thank you, girl - that was awesome of you! =)

  6. I have awarded you an Irresitibily sweet blog award!

  7. Thanks, Ella! That was awesome of you!

  8. I'm not a fan of ABC Family shows, but I really enjoy this one.

  9. This is the first show I've seen from ABC Family but I watch their "original movies" if they release to DVD - and I've found some jewels. This show is really good, and I hope that trend continues.

  10. ABC does have some good movies. =}

    What do you think of Bay? I have to admit, she gets on my nerves a bit.

  11. I know, right!? My mom and I saw Revenge of the Bridesmaids and couldn't stop laughing through the entire hour-and-a-half. It was TOO funny. =D I am now somewhat curious about Cyberbully; it could be good.

    Bay... actually by the end of "volume one," she had become a better person of character and Daphne had become the more "difficult" one. Being raised with anything she wanted did kind of enable Bay to be a bit of a spoiled brat but last I saw of her, I was more impressed with her than Daphne. (Looking forward to the rest of S1.) My mom really likes Kathryn and I find her to be the most logical, understanding one of the bunch. In truth, John gets on my nerves - a lot.

  12. I recently watched My Fake Fiance. Too funny. =}

    I thought Bay's comment about Angelo not waiting to be with Daphne doesn't men he wouldn't want to be with Bay, was just hateful. Plus,I'm not really into the whole poor little rich girl story line either.

    Kathryn has a fun story line this season. I'm really enjoying it. =} And John, what a jerk. lol He has greatly improved this season though. There was a scene between him and Daphne in the last ep that was beautiful.

  13. I saw that movie, too, Jen. It was really cute even though I am not a huge fan of either of its stars - you've reminded me that I should watch it again 'cause it was awfully cute. =D

    Yep, that conversation was mean on Bay's part. If memory serves me correctly, she did apologize and now Daphne isn't about to "give up" Emmett. So... I think they both need to learn how to be nicer with each other - and in my opinion, Daphne had really changed last I saw of her. (Glad to know she and John have a "moment" that is so sweet - love those!)

    Kathryn... oh, that sounds like fun. =) I'll be on the look-out for that subplot.

  14. It is a cute movie. It wouldn't win any awards, but it's fun. =D

    I agree, they need to be nicer to each other. The past few eps have been moving in that direction.I'm just not a huge fan of Bay, probably will never be a big fan. =/

    Have you checked out Make It Or Break It? That is some drama. lol

  15. So true - none of ABC Family Channel's films are exactly award-worthy but they are very entertaining. =)

    Both girls have a lot of growing up to do, but given that they are only 16, I think viewers can give them a bit of a break. I am really happy to know that their relationship is getting better. If nothing else would, that alone is reason to check out the next episodes. That is what makes a show so fun; picking out favorite characters and watching them grow. I might completely change my mind about Bay but last I saw of her, I felt she had matured in comparison to the girl who snuck out to "paint."

    No, I've not seen Make it or Break It. I have wondered about it but have not watched any episodes...

  16. I know there are more BC films I like but I can't think of them right now. Too tired. =/

    Make it or Break It is interesting, not the greatest acting but enjoyable.

  17. Cool! I'll have to rent that show sometime - I do like to occasionally watch gymnastics on TV and did once rent a film that centered on the sport. The name escapes me just now but I now it [the name] was a certain technique in gymnastics. =)

  18. If you enjoy gymnastics you would probably enjoy MIOBI. =D

  19. Awesome! Thanks, Jen. =)


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