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TV shows we love: Switched at Birth

tv show

It’s the nightmare every parent fears but dares not imagine: the revelation that your baby was switched at birth with someone else’s. This is where the harrowing journey starts for the affluent Kennish family and single mother Regina Vasquez when they find out their daughters were accidentally swapped at birth and for 16 years they have not been raising their biological children.

But the show transcends the families’ personal ordeal. The series’ most captivating aspect is its representation of deaf culture and the American Sign Language. The character of Daphne Vasquez, one of the daughters who were switched, is a deaf character. Although Katie Leclerc does not identify as deaf, which caused some controversy, other actors, like her best friend, Emmet, played by Sean Berdy and Marlee Matlin depicting Emmett’s mother Melody, contribute to the authentic representation.

Debuting in 2011, the show not only grabbed attention but also brought ASL into the spotlight, inspiring people globally to learn the language. As the series progresses, it incorporates more and more ASL into the dialogue, featuring several completely silent scenes with the incorporation of subtitles. Albeit not the first show to feature deaf characters, Switched at Birth stands out for the unprecedented exposure it gives to deaf culture on mainstream television and deafness not represented as disability but as “deaf-gain”. Perhaps some viewers were indeed surprised to see deaf characters playing music or riding motorcycles.

The narrative also explores themes of identity and family dynamics. The characters undergo significant growth throughout the series, which does not solely focus on the struggles of the two daughters but extends to the other family members as they grapple with their identities, relationships and personal aspirations. This includes some episodes where the attention revolves around Kathryn Kennish, struggling to find her own self within her role as a mother and a wife.

Hence, Switched at Birth offers both relaxation and thought provoking content while it fosters a deeper understanding of diversity.

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