Because I’m supposed to be studying for two tests that I take tomorrow, and I have access to Netflix, I have recently been watching far too much of a show called Switched at Birth. It’s an ABC Family Drama about two girls who were switched at birth, and the ensuing chaos as both families “find out.” (There’s a reason find out is in quotation marks, but in case you haven’t seen the show & are planning on watching it, I will spare you the spoiler-y reason why.)
While I think it’s interesting that one of the switched girls is deaf, I find some of the situations that entails ridiculous. I cannot comment on whether ABC Family does a good portrayal of deafness, not being deaf myself – though I have a feeling the channel’s portrayal of deaf teens is probably about as realistic as their portrayal of regular teens (I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was in high school, the knocked-up girls usually just dropped out of school, unnoticed, my peers and I were not constantly attacked and holding huge secrets, and I wasn’t stalked by some suave, ridiculously sneaky-smart psycho).
What do I mean by ridiculous situations? The deaf girl, Daphne, is kind of “deaf light.” She speaks (very well), and can usually understand you when you speak – as long as you’re looking at her, and not leading an auction (though if you’re interested in auctioneering, you can always watch this). So in the pilot, as Daphne and her non-biological mother are driving to meet their biological family members, they’re having a conversation in the car. This means non-bio mom (aka Regina) is signing and facing her passenger while driving.
I’ve read/heard good things about Vanessa Marano’s acting ability, but don’t really see much to praise. She’s pretty, but doesn’t really look Latina (particularly considering that her mother & father both look very Mexican & Spanish), and her emotions all seem kind of forced. I feel like her character is written well, but she feels fake. It makes sense that a rich, entitled girl would insist that her parents do DNA testing, and then get angry that she was right. It’s hard to feel for someone, though, when every word that comes out of her mouth feels like the director had to insert his hand inside of her puppet-ness and force her mouth open & sound out. Maybe she should have played the deaf girl?
It’s not necessarily worse than most other teen dramas – but it kind of should be, with a ridiculous premise like “switched at birth.” Shouldn’t it?