Is it possible to overcome your past mistakes and move on with your life? That's part of the premise behind the new season of ABC Family's "Switched at Birth," which followed two families who will always be connected due to one mistake. The results may be somewhat familiar, but the execution and pacing help to keep each episode fly by quickly.
"Switched at Birth" followed Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) and Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) as they continued to deal with the fallout of a hospital mix-up and how it impacted both of their families. Bay's parents John (D.W. Moffett) and Kathryn (Lea Thompson) looked to a life towards politics after the conclusion of last season's trial. Katherine initially wanted to do it, but she decided that John would be better suited for public office than she would be for the time being. They felt lucky to have Bay on the right track and are pleased by their renewed desire to study. Unfortunately, her school is skeptical of her academic success and accused her of cheating. John and Kathryn also have their biological daughter Daphne and Toby (Lucas Grabeel) to keep them busy as well. The Kennish family also had to contend with their permanent house guests, which included Daphne's mother/Bay's biological mother Regina (Constance Marie) and her struggle to trust her green card husband Angelo Sorrento (Gilles Marini). How will everyone handle Angelo's latest secret once it's been exposed? Will Regina, Bay and Daphne send him packing for good?
In terms of questions, it's too early to tell whether Angelo will be shown the door anytime soon since Marini has become a regular cast member as of this season. The show was wise to add him to its roster, because his character has always managed to generate drama without evening trying. It also helped that he had strong chemistry with Marie and a comfortable rapport with both Marano and Leclerc to make him somewhat likable, even when he royally messed up. The recent reveal that Angelo was going to be a father again will have some major fallout once the rest of the cast gets wind of it. The show has also excelled at properly balancing the adult and teenage drama without giving too much time to either portion, which doesn't always happen family dramas. Instead of focusing on a gimmick, the show allowed the Kennish/Vasquez clan to attack problems together and not separately. Unfortunately, "Switched at Birth" still continued to focus on the story misstep of Leclerc's ill-advised fling with her former boss. Luckily, the end of the premiere has seemingly fixed this and allowed Daphne to move on once and for all.
As for breakout stars, Leclerc and Marano are still leading the charge as their characters were the most affected by the switch. Their characters had to adjust to a new reality. Leclerc's Daphne had to adjust to two different worlds: hearing and deaf. Each episode involved her character going either one step forward or two more backwards. Leclerc gave Daphne a mixture of optimism, vulnerability and strength as she always managed to land on her feet, even if her taste in guys was questionable. Marano, on the other hand, provided Bay with a mixture of grit, humility and humor as she tried to do either the right thing or something totally wild. Her character's disorganized act of rebellion has thankfully gone away and let's hope that this new version of Bay will be here to stay for at least this season. An honorable mention should go to Thompson and Moffett who had a playful chemistry that they got to play with each week. Each episode allowed them to find humor every time something bad happened to their family. Fingers crossed that the show will continue to focus on the good times as well as the bad times that happened to everyone. If that happens, "Switched at Birth" will be a show worth watching for years to come.
"Switched at Birth" premiered on January 7th and airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC Family.
Verdict: The show has finally found its footing and has the extra drama with Marini being added as a regular cast member.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)