BEVERLY HILLS—When you’re deaf people seem to push anything “deaf” on you. For years I have been nagged to watch “Switched at Birth,” mostly by my friends who were either on the show or supporting it.

I thought more than twice about approaching this topic since I didn’t want to be a naysayer to a breakthrough show on the telly that employs many people that I know personally and love. So let me start off by saying this show is such a GREAT innovation. The idea of “Switched at Birth” is genius and has so much potential.

However, I’m not yet a fan.

If you are fluent in sign and have been in and around the deaf community it is annoying that the cast can’t learn ASL properly after 4 full seasons. It’s painful to watch Vanessa Marano (Bay Kennish) struggle through her lines as if she has an ASL coach telling her how to sign off set. It’s terrible. She is supposed to have known her deaf “sister” for 4 years now plus she is dating deaf guys for a few years and she doesn’t know the difference between the sign of “English” and “night.”

Politically speaking, the show digs too deep into issues it just can’t handle and it feels like the creators are on a power trip to share their agenda. Approaching political issues would be fine if it’s set to make the audience consider alternate moral solutions and not shove one’s opinion in the viewers’ faces.

Seriously, two college adults get drunk and have sex and they are pushing for rape charges? As a female this is an embarrassment. It condones an anti-male perspective and it happens too. I know a person serving life in prison for a similar situation. Politics have no room in a courtroom or in a television series that can’t handle it.

As the show is struggling with ratings, they start off season five creating a scene where one of the (really gay) actors who is supposed to be straight dresses up as Lil’ Wayne. This is considered racist where he is offending the black culture. How hypocritical… A show that casts only gay actors as straight men, or they cast the lead of the show, a hearing actress as the main deaf character and have her talk with a “deaf accent.” Hmmm and that’s not offensive?

Katie Leclerc (Daphne) and Adam Hagenbuch (Mingo) pushing another political agenda in your face.
Katie Leclerc (Daphne) and Adam Hagenbuch (Mingo) pushing another political agenda in your face.

Although the original cast was good. I can’t say the same for the later additions.

With the exception of D.W. Moffet (John Kennish) and Sean Birdy (Emmett Bledsoe) this show only casts unattractive gay actors playing all straight roles and they can’t sign. It’s unrealistic to have couples with the chemistry of a brother/sister pretending to be in love. Watching them kiss on screen is awkwardly incestual and makes me incredibly uncomfortable, not to mention its just not believable.

So how did they get cast? It’s like the casting director recruits on a Saturday night at the Abbey in West Hollywood, randomly assigning roles to less than qualified people. If so why not at least get the lookers to make it interesting. These characters need something to keep the audience entertained. The show is dying, don’t bring in new dis-interesting and unbelievable characters.

I guess growing up in the business, I notice things more than the average audience. I can’t stand when a nobody becomes a somebody in show biz and then they become arrogant, egotistical and selfish. It was clear to me this had happened with Constance Marie (Regina Vasquez) who is the mother to the deaf daughter. I didn’t know who she was before this role, however, this was a huge step in her career. She was cast for this part without knowing ASL, so learning it might bring on some challenges. Her refusal to sign on the show after ratings were at an all time high was just the typical thing I hate. Suck it up. You got a good job; if you can’t, then the show should kill you off the series. A mother fluent in ASL and not signing for her daughter is just unheard of. This made the storyline weak and unbelievable, but maybe it was just me who noticed that. I later confirmed with someone on the show that they refused to pay for her therapy sessions so she refused to sign. How pathetic!

I have to end with the good.

The base storyline and characters are pretty good. It’s a rather interesting plot. It also has made people more aware of deaf issues who normally wouldn’t have exposure to them. There has been a noticeable change for the better in the way strangers treat me when they learn of my deafness. Almost everyone knows how to say thank you in ASL now. I believe this is from “Switched at Birth.”

D.W. Moffett and Lea Thompson are heartwarming and genuine. The idea of having a traditional family demonstrating good morals and ethics on a television series with interesting obstacles was a breath of fresh air.

Sean Birdy, playing the role of Emmett Bledsoe, is undeniably talented. He is a great modern day James Dean. He’s charismatic and doesn’t appear to let his deafness define him. He plays the role perfectly. My friends tell me he’s become an arrogant jerk in real life, but for “Switched at Birth”…he’s the star.

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