There’s something inherently embarrassing about being in my mid-twenties and admitting to the fact that ABC Family is my favorite cable television channel. But it is.
This isn’t something that I’ve given a lot of thought to, honestly. I don’t sit around and rank my favorite TV channels. I don’t watch much actual TV: I don’t have cable, and my schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of regularly-scheduled TV watching, anyway. Nearly all the TV that I watch is online. That being said, when I do get to choose the TV channel at the gym? It’s always ABC Family (as a result, I’m super popular at my gym).
ABC Family has changed over the years. Not so long ago, it was a cable channel that mostly regurgitated programming from its sister networks (bring back EVERWOOD!) and played family-friendly movies. Over the past few years, though, the network has started developing original programming that’s actually watchable. I’ve talked about my obsessive love for GREEK, and I’m not going to lie: Pretty Little Liars is completely addictive. But today’s real focus is all about the new summer show Switched at Birth.
Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) is a wealthy teen living in a nice neighborhood with her stay-at-home mom (Lea Thompson), former-baseball player dad (D.W. Moffett), and older brother Toby (Lucas Grabeel). She looks nothing like her family, and gets the idea to do a blood test while studying genetics in biology. A test confirms that Bay is not related to her family, and that she and another baby were switched by accident at the hospital. Enter Daphne Vasquez (Katie LeClerc), her mother Regina (Constance Marie), and her grandmother. Daphne is deaf, having suffered a case of meningitis when she was young. The two families struggle to reconcile with the very different upbringings of their daughters. When financial woes threaten the possibility of Regina and Daphne moving away, the Kennish family offers up their guest house (which is like a mansion in its own right).
It’s not a story that reinvents the wheel, you guys. By all rights, this show should be terrible. But it’s not. Because of the strong cast and natural chemistry between the actors, the show actually works. Only two episodes have aired, and I’m completely hooked. It’s that much fun. LeClerc and Marano do a lot of the heavy lifting, bringing complexity and warmth to their teenage characters struggling with their identities. Also notable is Constance Marie, whose portrayal of Regina is magnetic. She is one of the most powerful women I’ve seen on TV in a while.
If you haven’t given the show a chance, you should. The second episode is available to watch on Hulu. My guess is that ABC Family will be re-airing the pilot at some point. Switched at Birth airs on ABC Family on Monday nights, 9:00/8:00 central.
Watch it. You won’t be sorry.