Switched at Birth “Art Like Love is Dedication” Review (Season 4 Episode 8)

VANESSA MARANO, KATIE LECLERC

Switched at Birth may have always had the hook of being about deaf characters going for it, as well as the potentially soapy matter of two families brought together by a mistake at the hospital (it works for Jane the Virgin!), but somewhere between its first and fourth season, it decided it could be more than that.

Now, two weeks after tackling the intensely complicated issue of campus rape, this silly ABC Family drama has a character getting the morning after pill following a casual encounter with a not-boyfriend. It may feel like a little thing, especially because this kind of thing happens every single day in reality, but to have a series show it on television, and not make it a plot point specifically, is almost unheard of.

But, as I say, the episode wasn’t remotely centered on that little trip to the clinic, and Daphne’s story went a little further. Having gotten to know the character over the last few years, I fully expected her to jump into the ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement with Mingo, just to have a love interest to hold on to, but she instead decided that a no-strings relationship isn’t actually what she wants.

It sends a positive message about recognizing what you need from a relationship versus settling into what’s expected in your environment, but I can’t help but feel like it would have been more interesting had we seen her continue down that path.

I imagine Daphne as the new Rory Gilmore – pampered and coddled – thrown into an environment that doesn’t immediately treat her how she’s come to expect. Gilmore Girls did this with Rory and Logan, and I hope Switched at Birth doesn’t have an arc in which Mingo comes around to Daphne’s way of thinking. A lot of people in college don’t want a relationship, and that’s fine.

Bay’s storyline this week took a well-earned break from talking about sexual politics, instead focusing on her relationship with art. I love when this show (or any show) remembers to give its characters interests and passions outside of love interests or drama, and I especially like the placement of this so soon after Bay’s world was turned upside down. There’s no probation, no Tank and no Emmett. Just Bay, and that’s so important.

Bay is a consistently good friend/sister/daughter, but she’s also a character that’s not allowed to have many close relationships outside of the immediate circle of family. Tess could be that friend, even though she’s resistant, and I love that Bay persevered with forging that connection even though it wasn’t easy. This girl lives to see other people feel special and at ease, and that shone through in the best way here.

Like Bay, Travis is a character that seems to consistently have tragic storylines thrown his way, but this episode at least had him overcome some of those obstacles he’s placed in front of himself. Poor, precious Travis (my pet name for him) is that kid who learns not to try because it’s not reinforced as they grew up, and of course communication would be the thing to trip him up.

His own family didn’t bother learning to talk to their son for seventeen years – he grew up in the bubble of Carlton and the deaf community – so of course he finds it difficult to express himself on paper.

I’m glad he has John, probably the only positive male presence in his universe, but even more glad that Kathryn is there for him in those (common) instances where John is simply pushing his own agenda with the son he can live vicariously through. Seriously, how disappointing it must be for John Kennish, an alien among a sea of artsy people, just wanting to talk about baseball.

This was a slightly slower week of Switched at Birth after so much intensity since its return, but it’s sometimes those small moments that remind us how uniquely special the show really is.

What did you think of the episode? What are your theories as to what happened with Eric’s mysterious wife? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.