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Heather's TV Review: Switched at Birth
Is it possible for curiosity to really be a bad idea? That's only part of the premise behind the ABC Family show Switched at Birth, which had some suprisingly decent results.
Switched at Birth followed the out of place rich girl Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) and her quest to see if she's really related to her seemingly perfect parents John (D.W. Moffett) and Kathryn (Lea Thompson). John is a former Baseball star who is a successful businessman and Kathryn is the perfect housewife. Bay was genuinely shocked when she took a DNA test and found that she really wasn't their biological daughter. She was switched at birth by mistake with Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) who was raised by a regular hairdresser named Regina (Constance Marie) with secrets. Daphne's upbringing has had some challenges, such as becoming deaf after an illness at an early age. Both Bay and Daphne are having a hard time adjusting to their new normal and adjusting to dating in their respected worlds. Bay is dating Daphne's deaf best friend Emmett (Sean Berdy) and Daphne is flirting with their brother Toby's (Lucas Grabeel) friend Wilke (Austin Butler) that hasn't gone anywhere yet. Will this new nuclear family work or implode under the pressure?
In terms of plot, Switched at Birth's mixed some good old fashioned family values with a modern twist of a soap opera without any of the cliches. Birth didn't fall into the storytelling cliches of Seventh Heaven or the exaggerated teenage relationships in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show balanced the teenager storylines with the ones involving the parents with some new surprises. Instead of letting Bay and Daphne's stories run the show, John and Kathryn get as much time to be loving parents along with Regina's help. Another plot with potential is the quadangle between Emmett/Daphne/Bay/Wilke and it could also be a double edged sword if the writers drag the story on for too long or make the wrong decision.
In terms of acting, the show's cast allowed each member to shine in their own way without giving too much emphasis on a particular one. Between Leclerc and Marano, Leclerc has the greater challenge to play Daphne as a fearless girl who suffered one too many challenges and has deal with the surrogate sister she never expected. Marano, on the other hand, had to mix Bay's sarcastic persona with a hidden vulnerability that many people don't get to see. Her scenes with Berdy give Marano the opportunity to show that Bay is more than a rebellious teenager. Moffett and Thompson helped ground the show and showcased how their marriage could survive anything. They mixed playful affection along with honest emotions as they dealt with a hospital error and got another daughter in the process. Sadly, the show's biggest casualty was Marie who was saddled with playing an enigma like Regina. Audiences don't know whether they should trust her or even like her with all of the secrets that've been revealed about her in recent episodes. Hopefully, the arrival Regina's ex (Gilles Marini) will provide more insight into the complicated character. If not, all might be lost.
Switched at Birth premiered on January 3rd and airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm on ABC Family.
Verdict: A show that mixed family and legal complications with equal measure.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)