Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Switched at Birth: ABC Family’s Groundbreaking Deaf/Hearing Drama

And now for something different. I'm definitely not within ABC Family's target demographic, but I've fallen head over heels in love with the cable network's drama Switched at Birth, which is a profound and reflective exploration of communication, identity, and self-expression.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "Switched at Birth: ABC Family’s Groundbreaking Deaf/Hearing Drama," in which I take a look at the teen soap, which explores self-expression and the communication gulf between the hearing and deaf communities, and talk to creator Lizzy Weiss and stars Katie Leclerc, Sean Berdy, and Marlee Matlin.

When Marlee Matlin walked away with an Academy Award for her heart-wrenching turn as a deaf custodian in 1986’s romantic drama Children of a Lesser God, it seemed as though film had finally encountered a definitive depiction of a deaf individual and the often tenuous relationship between the hearing and the deaf worlds. Television has lagged behind; nearly 30 years later, most TV shows still typically shove deaf characters into the background or use them as props as part of a hearing person’s story.


Switched at Birth reverses that course. On the surface, the teen soap, which launched on ABC Family last summer, appears to revolve around two teenage girls (Vanessa Marano, Katie Leclerc) who discover that they were switched at birth as their families—a wealthy white couple (D.W. Moffett, Lea Thompson) and a Latina recovering-alcoholic hairdresser (Constance Marie)—attempt to untangle the emotional Gordian knot in which they’ve found themselves.

Unexpectedly, the show delves deep. Created by Lizzy Weiss (Blue Crush), Switched at Birth—which airs Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m.—offers a deft and intelligent take on the way in which we form our identities through self-expression, whether that be street art, spoken/signed communication, texting, or open dialogue among family members and individuals, as well as the communication gulf between the hearing and deaf/hard-of-hearing communities. It’s also a show that doesn’t pander to its presumed audience. Semantics—“deaf” and “hard-of-hearing” are OK; “hearing-impaired” is not—and ethical implications, as well as morality and choice, are discussed frankly and without preaching.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

The Daily Beast: "How The Killing Went Wrong"

While the uproar over the U.S. version of The Killing has quieted, the show is still a pale imitation of the Danish series on which it is based. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "How The Killing Went Wrong," in which I look at how The Killing has handled itself during its second season, and compare it to the stunning and electrifying original Danish series, Forbrydelsen , on which it is based. (I recently watched all 20 episodes of Forbrydelsen over a few evenings.) The original is a mind-blowing and gut-wrenching work of genius. It’s not necessary to rehash the anger that followed in the wake of the conclusion last June of the first season of AMC’s mystery drama The Killing, based on Søren Sveistrup’s landmark Danish show Forbrydelsen, which follows the murder of a schoolgirl and its impact on the people whose lives the investigation touches upon. What followed were irate reviews, burnished with the “burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns