June 7, 2011
The Old Switcheroo
I did not want to be interested in Switched At Birth. Summers are supposed to be my down time, to read more books and get caught up on the backlog of TV that piles up during the "regular" season. I have enough already on my schedule in the summer without various networks adding new shows that spark my interest. Switched At Birth stars Vanessa Marano who played the supremely irritating April Nardini, who ruined everything, on Gilmore Girls and I hold TV grudges. DW Moffett is playing Marano's dad. He played Joe McCoy, who ruined Coach's Dillon Panthers career on Friday Night Lights. Grudge! There were so many reasons to be disinterested in this show but against the odds, ABCFamily's campaign made me want to watch.
Once I decided I wanted to see it, I really, really wanted to like it. I was excited for it. I should have known that my raised expectations were only setting it up to let me down.
We begin by meeting Bay Kennish (Marano) who is telling her parents (Moffett and Lea Thompson) that what they learned in science class today is that she has a blood type that proves she's not biologically related to her parents at all. Bay insists they get genetic testing which her parents go along with and 6 weeks later they're all told that Bay was given the wrong ID bracelet as an infant and mistakenly went home with the wrong family. Shortly after that the Kennish family meets Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) and her mother Regina (Constance Marie). Daphne looks exactly like Lea Thompson and is deaf. Regina is of Puerto Rican decent and somehow believed for 16 years that the pale ginger was her biological daughter.
When the two families meet, Bay is a total bitch. She mostly ignores Daphne except when she's being snotty to her and she barely even bothers to say anything to Regina. Regina is openly hostile toward the wealthy Kennish's because they have the nerve to have money. After the initial meeting, Kristen and John Vasquez set about acting like entitled assholes and trying to find a way to work it out so they can have both of the girls all to themselves. Kristen even does a background check on Regina and discovers two DUIs on her record a dozen years ago and then accuses her of making Daphne deaf by being too drunk to take her to the hospital when she caught meningitis. See? Assholes.
John Kennish goes behind Regina's back and tries to get Daphne to enroll in the fancy private school that his other kids attend. Bay gets a fake nose piercing and spray paints some art on a wall in Daphne's 'hood then tries to buy beer with a fake ID and gets arrested. After a fight with both of her mothers at the police station, she runs away. She calls her brother who is one of only 3 people on the show who isn't an asshole (Daphne and her friend Emmett are the other two) and while she's busy feeling sorry for herself he reminds her that maybe she could talk to Daphne about the situation since that's one person who could understand what it's like to find out you were switched at birth.
With scant few minutes left in the show, Bay goes to talk to Daphne where they sort of bond in a semi-sisterly fashion and then Bay has a not-terribly-assy encounter with Regina and her new bio-grandma during which she finds out they are broke and might move to Toledo so she convinces her parents to let the Vasquez family move into their guest house.
If not for the nice moments at the end between Bay and Toby; Bay and Daphne; Bay, Daphne, Regina and Grandma; and the existence of Emmett and Toby, I would have shit-canned this show completely. But somehow those final minutes salvaged the show for me and almost entirely on the likability of Leclerc, I find myself liking the show.
So I didn't want to watch; then I wanted to watch and I wanted to love it; then I watched and I hated everyone on it; then I everyone stopped being assholes for 5 minutes and I sort of liked it. This show is one episode old and it's already given me whiplash. If it's going to keep its season pass I'm going to need to see a lot less of Bay and the adults acting like assholes and a lot more of Toby and Emmett. Stay tuned to this space next week to see what happens.