ABC Family’s new show, Switched at Birth, deals with the difficult legal and emotional problems that arise after two teenage girls discover that they were “switched at birth.”
Bay Kennish, played by Gilmore Girls’ Vanessa Marano, was raised by a wealthy family with all the luxuries of private academies, expensive hobbies, and a mansion-of-a-house.
Daphne Vasquez, played by Katie Leclerc, was raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood complete with graffiti, police sirens, and a steady crime rate.
When they discover the mistake that the hospital made, the girls’ parents must learn to get along in order to get to know their biological daughter without losing their “switched” daughter.
This proves difficult as Kathryn and John Kennish, played by Back to the Furture’s Lea Thompson and Saturday Night Lights’ D.W. Moffett, begin to question Daphne’s mother’s parenting techniques, such as the fact that Daphne became deaf due to an antibiotic for meningitis that her mother, Regina Vasquez, played by George Lopez’s Constance Marie Lopez, gave her.
In the show, Daphne, played by Leclerc, her friend Emmett,The Sandlot 2’s Sean Berdy, and Emmett’s mother, Children of a Lesser God’s Marlee Matlin, all play hearing impared people.
In reality, Leclerc lost her hearing due to Meniere’s disease, Berdy was born deaf, and Matlin was born with a malformed cochlea in her ear. Matlin was not only the youngest woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but was also the only deaf actor to win an Academy Award.
The fact that the show used people who are deaf in real life adds authenticity to the plot line. It allows readers to become familiar with a culture that many are ignorant about.