Title: Switched at Birth (2011 TV series)
Creator: Lizzy Weiss
Genres: Family Drama, Teen Drama, Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4.6 stars
The one-hour scripted drama is set in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and revolves around two teenagers who were switched at birth and grew up in very different environments: one in an affluent suburb, and the other in working-class Areas. According to ABC Family, it is “the first mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing series regulars and scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language (ASL)”.
What makes this drama series soo special is precisely its innovation to incorporate the deaf (and later, other people with disabilities) as recurring characters in the show. It uses everyday drama and issues – family problems, relationships, friendships, school, whatnot – to become an educational TV program. It poses questions and creates debates about social topics that must be dealt with today.
The show focuses on 2 teenage characters: Bay and Daphne (deaf), and each of their families and friends. In the first episode, these two girls are reunited, and both families are challenged as they later decide it’s best for the girls to be living close to both families.
Bay Kennish (by Vanessa Marano): grew up in the wealthy Kennish household, but is biologically daughter of Vasquez. Her character is very well-developed; her strong and driven personality definitely stick out from the beginning, but what’s interesting is how her character develops. Her immersion in the deaf community definitely had a say in her artistry, and by the end of Season 4, I declare her as one of the strongest characters that has gone through some of the shittiest moments in the show.
Daphne Vasquez (by Katie Leclerc): grew up in the working-class Vasquez family, but is biologically linked to the Kennish family. She lost her hearing when she was a young age, and developed proficient sign language skills. Though she is very hard-working and determined, I was sometimes annoyed by how much attention and importance she gave to boys. Both girls have gone through some tough moments together, and the way Daphne reacted to these situations often got her into trouble. But just like Bay, she was very determined: her end goal is to become a doctor, and despite the struggles she has faced at college and other places, those challenges have made her even more determined.
Cinematography and Aesthetics
I don’t have much to say regarding cinematography – probably because it is all done very thoroughly and well-put. Regarding the aesthetics, as someone who’s constantly on the fashion-lookout, I quite like the balance of the characters’ individual styles and the typical urban settings of the show.
First of all, each of the characters has a distinctive sense of style that matches their personality. Bay, who’s into street art and Frida Kahlo-obsessed, has a more gothic and edgy kind of style, which I normally find very appealing. Daphne, on the other hand, wears more sporty and a bit more girly clothes. But what I like the most is that the designers don’t go over the top with their clothes. When you look at other shows like Pretty Little Liars, they dress the girls as if it were a cocktail party every day.
Conclusion & Who would I recommend it to?
This is a show I recommend to everyone. Though Seasons 1 and 2 were not as developed as 3 and 4, I feel that its improvement with each episode makes this show even more worthwhile. I started watching SaB when it first started, and it was really relatable for me because I was going through similar life stages after the girls (high school, summer, family and relationships, college). It definitely erases some misconceptions about the people in our own society, such as the existence of the deaf community, and the importance of such community. Each of the characters ends up having his or her spotlight of dramatic scenes every once in a while, and though I can’t understand how they pull through such issues so quickly – it’s a drama show, after all. It makes everything more exciting, unexpected, and thrilling.
Thanks for reading 🙂