SWITCHED AT BIRTH “This Is Not a Pipe” Review

SWITCHED AT BIRTH (ABC Family)

SWITCHED AT BIRTH “This Is Not a Pipe” Season 1 Episode 1 – I thought I was a pipe, but I’m actually an eggplant. ABC Family has created a thought provoking show that doesn’t rely on the melodrama of its other shows. With its uninspired (but to the point) title, SWITCHED AT BIRTH evokes a TV movie of the week. In fact, there was a 1991 Lifetime movie with the same name, based on true events. Needless to say, I was expecting a fluffy series with court battles, high school cliques, and a cat fight or two or three. You know, the usual ABC Family fare. Thankfully, I was proven wrong by tonight’s premiere episode, “This Is Not a Pipe.”

The first episode lays out many issues that the show will inevitably deal with as the series progresses – cultural/racial identity, socioeconomic status, deaf versus hearing, single-parent household versus two-parent. This will be a lot for the show to handle, but the cast is excellent, so I really think they can pull it off. The heavy subject matter is also smartly interspersed with comedic moments that the actors pull off swimmingly, without being completely obvious about it. The first meeting of the families at the Kennish house is perfectly constrained and gauche, yet subtly funny (like a real life situation where things are so awkward that everything said is unintentionally funny). All the actors have good timing and work well together.

The different reactions of the parents and kids acts as a starting point for Switched at Birth. Bay and Daphne want to learn where they come from and who they are (or would have been). The parents have a more possessive attitude towards the two girls. All of them realize that they don’t know each other, even though they feel like they should. The scene where John Kennish calls after Daphne about her sweater conveys this sense of regret and realization that his daughter is not really his daughter. This realization is also cleverly what the title of the episode signifies and what Bay is babbling about in the car when she is staking out the Vasquez house.

Lea Thompson and D.W. Moffett never go overboard as the uptight and patronizing parents of Bay and Toby. Regina, played by Constance Marie, has just the right amount of indignation, self-respect and understanding to counter the Kennishes. Bay begins the episode asking her mom why they see things so differently all the time, so she logically has the hardest time adjusting to the idea of not being biologically related to her mom and dad. Vanessa Marano made Bay’s period of rebelliousness understandable, not annoying. Her banter with Ty made it fun, too. Katie LeClerc is slightly inconsistent in the way she talks, but is believable as someone who is deaf. The big surprise for me is Lucas Grabeel who I expected to hate as Toby, probably due to images of his High School Musical character. But he is the matter-of-fact voice of reason in tonight’s episode.

I’m definitely excited to see more of the show. What did you think of the premiere of Switched at Birth? Comment below.