Bay (Vanessa Marano) has been through the wringer on Switched at Birth. Before she even found out she had different biological parents in the world than the ones who raised her, she was having a tough time at home and at school, trying to find her place and do her art, and still feel apart of something with those around her. But since the switch she had more moments of spiral—some which she brought on herself and some which just happened to her. She was cheated on; she fell in with a bad crowd; she ran away from home; she didn’t care much about school at all. But at the end of it all, she got something she desperately needed from the one parental figure in her life who’s support she arguably needed the most, and it set her on a better path.
“Bay saw [her father, John Kennish] in a different light at the end of season one, when he comes looking for her and said to her—finally—which I don’t think he ever said to her before the switch had happened or after the switch had happened [that] he loves her, like ‘You’re my daughter, and I can’t live without you’,” Marano said when LA TV Insider Examiner sat down with her on the Los Angeles set of Switched at Birth late last year.
“That’s what him coming to find her was about, and I think that’s why she has a big change this season where she’s listening, and she’s being a good student, and she’s not doing anything illegal.”
Bay’s switch toward attentiveness does not go unnoticed or unpunished in its own right, though. Season two sees her switching schools to attend Carlton as part of a program that brings hearing kids into the deaf community to learn ASL. While Bay is at first eager to be a part of this program—in part because she already knows so much sign language, she thinks she’ll have an advantage—she is not welcomed nearly as eagerly there as she has been in other places in her life.
“She expects it’s going to be great. She expects that because she signs and she knows so much more about deaf culture now, it’s going to be great. [Her] experience has been Daphne, who’s this completely acclimated girl who lives almost seamlessly and perfectly between both worlds and Emmett, who also didn’t talk and thought hearing people were selfish but then ended up dating Bay, so clearly she was like ‘I can win the hearts of everyone!’ Even [Melody]—she started out not liking her but won her heart in the end. And then here she doesn’t. She does not at all. She’s not expecting it to be as difficult as it is, and she ends up realizing she doesn’t know as much sign language as she thinks,” Marano said.
“She’s going to have a newfound respect for Daphne as someone who has to balance two different worlds.”
Furthermore, though, at Carlton Bay finds herself being bullied by a deaf student named Natalie (Stephanie Nogueras), who doesn’t like that the hearing kids are coming in and taking resources. Natalie gives Bay a hard time, and Bay finds herself without many to turn to for support.
“[Daphne] doesn’t even warn her! She doesn’t say ‘By the way, there’s this girl, and she’s going to hate you because she hates hearing people. And she’s tiny, but I bet she could take you’,” Marano said.
“[But] I think the biggest challenge is her ex-boyfriend is there, and he wants to get back together with her, and she’s in that pushing forward, pulling away…She loves him so much and wants to be back together with him, but she’s not ready.”
Of course, what it will take for Bay to potentially get ready is really a question for Switched at Birth showrunner Lizzy Weiss, but Marano considered things from her character’s point of view to admit that regardless of how long it may take or what she may personally want as an actor, Bay and Emmett (Sean Berdy) are essential to the show. Dare we say they’re the new, younger version of Ross and Rachel?
“Bay and Emmett of Switched at Birth is a relationship that is such a part of the show in a way that ties the show together. It ties the hearing world and the deaf world together; it ties the search for an identity together; it ties the world that Bay believed she would have been in if the switch hadn’t happened compared to where she is now. It’s a relationship that’s so important to the show that I think it’s always going to be that seesaw situation of ‘will they/won’t they’,” Marano said.
As if things weren’t rocky enough for Bay, though, season two of Switched at Birth will test her feelings about Angelo (Gilles Marini), too.
On the one hand, “Bay wanted to love Angelo, wanted to know Angelo, wanted him to be perfect, so if anything, him stepping up to the plate because he’s financially secure to step up to the plate, it makes everyone else wary of the situation, but for her it backs everything up. He’s still here—he has all of this money, and he’s still here,” she said.
On the other, there was the whole issue of that pregnant woman showing up—a woman who was so newly pregnant, it proved Angelo was having another relationship while claiming to be so in love with Regina (Constance Marie) and using Regina for a green card. Marano admitted that Bay will “get into it” with her biological father over this situation, but at the end of the day, she’ll probably end up forgiving him and his cheating.
“I think she’s trying to figure out a balance between a love life and just a sanity. A lot of Bay has been a fear of never being able to please people, but she’s finally at a place where she’s okay with her parents—all four of them—so maybe she’s pleasing some people,” Marano said.
“Just—how long can that last?”
Hopefully, for at least a few episodes! There is so much drama coming to Switched at Birth this season, we have to hope for a little calm around Bay, at least some of the time.
Switched at Birth airs on ABC Family on Monday nights at 8 p.m.
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