Thursday, June 9, 2011

TV Pilot Review: Switched at Birth

I won't dissemble: Switched at Birth is cheesy ABC Family summer teen fare. But it's delicious, delicious cheese. It's about two teen girls who discover that they were, yes, switched at birth, and have to deal with getting to know each others' families - and figuring out what to do next - given their differences in class, culture, interests, and abilities. (One of the girls is deaf.) This double fish-out-of-water setting heightens the normal elements of teen drama - boys! rebellion! annoying parents! - and gives the main characters a real, concrete reason for the common adolescent experience of feeling like outsiders in their own lives.

So far, at least, Switched at Birth has better writing than some other ABC Family shows (hi, Secret Life!), and the acting is solid, especially from leads Vanessa Marano (of Gilmore Girls) and Katie Leclerc. I studied sign language as a kid, so I was thrilled to see the extensive use of ASL on the show, and the pretty balanced discussions of aspects of deafness and Deaf culture. Between that and the class issues the pilot faced head-on, this cheese might actually have a surprising amount of substance. But really, it's just fun. So many openings for crazy drama in this situation! I'm looking forward to spending my summer getting to know Daphne and Bay and wondering which will be the first to kiss the other's boyfriend. (You know it's got to happen.)

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