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07 June 2011

First Thoughts: SWITCHED AT BIRTH

We actually beat US television by a decade because the premise of babies being switched at birth --- where one is raised by the rich, and the other grew up poor --- has been the premise of local TV's most successful drama series. The show is called Mara | Clara. But the similarities to Switched At Birth ends there.

And although this is a drama series, it has its light, heartwarming moments. Watching Switched At Birth is like watching Seventh Heaven or Life Unexpected. (Sidebar: Gilmore Girls, says TVLine)

Bay, the privileged one, discovers that her blood type doesn't match any of her parents. In a matter of minutes, (Sidebar: yes, the pilot's pacing is really fast!) she comes face to face with this girl Daphne and her mom, who is actually Bay's biological mom.

We also find out that Daphne is deaf. (Sidebar: the actress playing her, Katie Leclerc, developed a disease that is slowly taking away her ability to hear).  Daphne developed meningitis when she was a toddler. One of her friends pointed out, if she weren't switched at birth and had lived with her real parents --- who have tons of money by the way --- she wouldn't have gone deaf.

We also learn that Bay, who has been secretly spray-painting beautiful graffiti on neighbors' walls and gates, inherited her real mom's artistic streak. She is partly Puerto-Rican...and all along her parents thought she looked different because of their French heritage.

Anyway, conflict erupts in the first episode, which is rather expected because...what good would watching a show be if there aren't any problems? The conflict --- however simple it should go, I mean if this were real life ---  is a necessary introduction. It's there to show us the strengths and weaknesses of the characters.

And from this, I could easily draw out that the girls are exactly who their mothers are:
  • Daphne (red-head) is level-headed just like her biological Mom, Kathryn (played by Lea Thompson). She is more mature than Bay, despite being of the same age. However, Daphne also has this rebellious streak in her. The deaf girl listens to hardcore music and dates a guy in bike. I think that's partly because of the way her (non-bio) mom has raised her. 
  • Bay (brunette) is a free-spirit, just like her biological Mom, Regina (played by Constance Marie). Growing up privileged and rich, she has the best of everything and may come off as a brat. But she loves her (non-bio) parents and has a good relationship with her (non-bio) mother, who keeps her grounded and centered. 

I'm liking Daphne better, and only because her character has been unwrapped faster than Bay's. The actress playing Daphne is effective, too. Bay, on the other hand, I suspect has many layers we should be discovering in the next episodes.

Between the mothers, I can't pick who I like better for now. I love Regina's sassy attitude, while I also like Kathryn's soccer-mom, take-charge vibe.

Switched At Birth is recommended summer viewing for families and mothers. I think I've found my new guilty pleasure this season. The show airs on ABC Family.

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