It has been a long and somewhat rocky road for Toby Kennish (Lucas Grabeel) on ABC Family's Switched at Birth. To an outsider, it may look like the young man is extremely together. He has a comfortable and stable position in the family business, and he's on track to get married and therefore more officially settle down. It's a far cry from the kid who was in over his head with gambling debts when we first met him on the show! But that doesn't mean that Toby's necessarily on the right track for him. After all, he has given up a lot of what he really loves as he sprints toward this "mature" future that everyone assumes they "should" want.
"He has forced himself to grow up rather quickly and I definitely relate to that because I think a lot of guys when they're 18 and they graduate high school think 'Okay, I got to grow up, and I got to make it to the end and get a job and get married and do the whole thing.' It's not for everybody, but that's obviously what Toby's chosen to do. I think he kind of put the cart before the horse," Grabeel said when LA TV Insider Examiner caught up with him.
"[He] jumped ahead, not thinking of consequences or ramifications of what it would be like to get married right out of high school. That's a pretty serious decision, but I think it's real...I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but I think he needs to own up to whatever decisions he makes and live with it."
Toby has given up a lot of what makes him tick to focus on this wedding and the subsequent marriage. His bride-to-be (Cassi Thompson) didn't ask him to get a full time job in lieu of going to college-- nor did she ask him to quit playing music-- but he felt he should do both things in order to prove how serious he was and set up a comfortable life for himself and his soon-to-be wife. But as time as gone on, there have been a lot of red flags that maybe they shouldn't push ahead so narrowly-- that you don't have to sacrifice certain parts of what you want your life to be for others. Grabeel shared that in "Departure of Summer," this is something Toby is forced to face.
"They've kind of had mini-conversations throughout the whole thing as they try to deal with their situation with her dad and the religious differences that they have-- the different beliefs that they share-- and the future and how young they are, how mature they are, and how ready they are for this lifelong commitment. They have kind of sequestered themselves away and tried to take on the world together, just the two of them," Grabeel said.
"There is a confrontation about...our decision to get married so young that obviously doesn't end well for Toby and Nikki."
With the characters separating themselves that way for so long, though, Grabeel was separated as an actor from most of his previously regular scene partners and from some really exciting, fun, and potentially character-changing storylines. While many of the threads of Toby's future hang in the air after the second season finale (including whether he'll begin to pursue college, music, or both), one thing the actor hopes for the third season is that he'll be able to be a part of some of the bigger moments for characters like Bay (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne (Katie Leclerc) again. Toby helping them through problems might given him some of the clarity he needs in his own life, as well.
"My favorite thing about playing Toby has always been his objective view of the whole situation. He was the one that was least affected by the switch. Of course he was affected to find out he has this sister and to know Bay wasn't his real sister, but it's different since he wasn't one of them or a parent [of one of them]... Toby always seems to have a great objective wisdom to any kind of situation he comes into talk to any one of these characters. I like that he's wise for his years, and I feel like that's kind of what made him jump into this 'Oh I'm going to get a job and get married and grow up really fast' [route]," Grabeel said.
The clarity Toby really needs right now is that regardless of relationship, music is the true love of his life, and he needs to find a way to keep his life balanced so that he always makes time for it, regardless of what other complications he has going on. In fact, it should actually help him work through some of those other complications.
"When I read the scripts, whenever he's on stage, they always use [descriptions] like 'He's in his element'; 'He's happier than he's ever been'-- those kinds of things-- so I feel like that's telling. Music is really important to him, and that's definitely something I want to see him pursue. And as an actor, I just love to get to sing on the show, too. But they've built that up-- everything else seems like an obstacle to get to his dream of being a musician," Grabeel said.
Switched at Birth will air its second season finale on ABC Family on August 19 2013 at 8 p.m.
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