Every teenager feels like they don’t fit in, but what if you find out that you are so different from your family because they aren’t actually your family? ABC Family’s newest series follows two teens who learn that they there was a mix up in the hospital when they were born and their lives might have been entirely different with an entirely different family.
Bay Kennish is an artistic teenager being raised by her stay-at-home mom Kathryn and former professional baseball player father John, in a wealthy neighborhood along with her brother Toby. Daphne Vasquez is a deaf teen living with her struggling single mother Regina and grandmother in a working class neighborhood. We watch the girls as they work to come to terms with their new discovery and their expanded families, but they handle it in very different ways. Bay is a whiny, self-righteous teen (so, typical) who basically freaks out while Daphne takes everything in stride because she has dealt with so much worse in her life (being bullied for being deaf, a mother who was once a drunk, a single mother who has little money). Isn’t it refreshing to have a character who has problems in life but doesn’t spend her time whining about them (I’m looking at you Emily Kmetko)?
The show premiered with the highest premiere numbers yet for the network. I’m hopeful about this show, but I have one particular concern: the CW had a similarly interesting and unique concept in Life Unexpected, but it was unable to keep the focus on the complex issues of being a teen who grew up in the foster system and has since found her real parents. Instead it focused on love triangles and problems galore. I’m hoping Switched at Birth does not make the same mistake. (Not that you can’t have any love story, it just can’t overwhelm the other more interesting storyline.) There is so much to deal with when it comes to these girls’ lives already that should be explored.
As an added exciting bonus, Marlee Matlin will be on the show on occasion.