Must Watch Show: Switched at Birth Renewed for a 3rd Season

Switched at Birth on ABC Family is a terrific series. The announcement came this week that it’s renewed for a 3rd season. I originally watched because I’m a Marlee Matlin fan and like shows that feature sign language, but I quickly got caught up in the story and interested in the characters.

Daphne Toby Emmett Bay

The story involves Bay Kennish (Vanessa Marano) who should have been a Vasquez, and Daphne Vasquez (Katie Leclerc) who should have been a Kennish. Instead they got switched at birth and went home from the hospital with the wrong families. The story begins when the two girls are in high school and the truth is revealed to the families and the world at large because Bay does a science project involving DNA.

The Kennish family is wealthy and privileged.  D.W. Moffett plays John Kennish, the father. Lea Thompson is Kathryn Kennish, the mother. Lea Thompson and Katie Leclerc could be biologically related – they look that much alike. Lucas Grabeel is Toby Kennish, who is Daphne’s biological brother but regards Bay as his sister.

Constance Marie plays Regina Vasquez, who raised Daphne as a single mom. An alcoholic single mom. Single because Daphne’s father, Angelo, who we don’t meet into well into the series, took off. He’s played by Gilles Marini. He may have taken off because Daphne got sick and went deaf or because of issues around Regina’s drinking. Anyway, he was an absent father.

Associated with these characters from the start are Emmett (Sean Berdy) a deaf friend of Regina and Daphne’s and Emmett’s mother Melody (Marlee Matlin) who is also deaf.

A recurring conflict in the series is what happens when the deaf community comes up against the hearing community. When the Kennish family meet Daphne, they all learn some sign language. But there are conflicts around this culture clash in many episodes. In one episode the deaf students at the school that both Bay and Daphne attend stage a strike to try to keep the school from going 50% hearing / 50% deaf. Since Bay is hearing, this adds to the many conflicts between Bay and Daphne.

Incidentally, the school strike episode was almost completely done in sign, a first for any TV series.

Bay and Daphne face conflicts over boyfriends and schools. There are jealousies over access to parents and acceptance by parents both biological and by upbringing. The girls face their identity crises in completely different ways.

Everyone in both families consider the parents who raised each girl to be the parents. The parents with the last word, so to speak. The newly discovered birth parents are referred to as “biological” parents. Soon enough, however, both girls effectively have two sets of parents because they all live together in the Kennish compound, which includes a guest house.

Another recurring storyline of conflict involves who knew what and when. Turns out Regina knew early on that the babies had been switched and had been keeping an eye on Bay all along. Boy, was John Kennish mad when he found out that secret.

ABC Family put together a couple of videos that will help you see a little of this in action.

Beginners Guide to Switched at Birth, Part 1

Beginners Guide to Switched at Birth, Part 2

ABC Family can add this to its list of other series that look at the question of what makes a family, most notably The Fosters. In both The Fosters and Switched at Birth, there are themes around whether family is biology, or love, or some other combination of factors that mix with biology and love.

If you aren’t already a fan of Switched at Birth, I hope you’ll give your consideration. It’s worth it.

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Season 2 Casting News for Orange is the New Black – Updated

The latest from Netflix about season 2 of Orange is the New Black is that Lorraine Toussaint was added to the cast as a prisoner named Vee. Lorraine Toussaint was a regular on Body of Proof, Friday Night Lights and Saving Grace, but I love her most of all from Any Day Now. Any Day Now was set in 1960’s Birmingham, Alabama during the height of the civil rights movement. If you haven’t seen it you should look it up and watch it.

Danielle Brooks

Netflix also announced that Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee will be a regular. Danielle Brooks is fresh out of Julliard. Her career is off to a solid gold start with OITNB and Taystee.

Taryn Manning

Taryn Manning is promoted to being a cast regular as well. The announcement is a bit of a spoiler alert, since it means that Piper didn’t do as much damage to Pennsatucky at the end of Season 1 as we might have thought.

Update 2/1/2014

The news about casting for season 2 announced recently is that Lori Petty from Tank Girl has a part in Orange is the New Black. The name of her character and what part she’ll play in the show isn’t explained yet.

The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)

Everyone fast forwarded through the credits of The L Word because they didn’t like the theme song.

Big mistake.

You can learn everything you need to know about all 6 seasons, all 70 episodes, just by watching the opening credits. I’ve had it in my head for years that it would be fun to do recaps of The L Word using only what you see in the credits. Let the fun begin. Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season One)”

Do You Like The Walking Dead?

I got a note from someone the other day talking about some of their favorite shows. Many were shows I like. The Walking Dead was on her list, but I’ve never watched it. Look how popular it is as a graphic novel.

I love a good scifi show. I haven’t avoided this one because it’s about zombies. My issue with zombie movies is there are so few women. After learning about producer Gale Ann Hurd last weekend, and the women she makes sure to include in her productions, I’m thinking maybe I misjudged The Walking Dead. Did I?

I trust this woman’s judgement about good shows, so I’m wondering if you watch The Walking Dead? Why do you like it?

Should I start watching it?

Laurie Holden image from AMC.

Strong Women: Gale Ann Hurd

I’d never heard the name Gale Ann Hurd before last weekend when I attended the BlogHer13 Conference in Chicago. Gale Ann Hurd was a keynote speaker at the event and I’m a believer in Gale Ann Hurd now.

She’s currently producing The Walking Dead on AMC. Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne on The Walking Dead, narrated a brief video explaining who some of the characters brought to us by Gale Ann Hurd are and why this producer is so empowering for women.

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See if you recognize any of these characters.

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See any favorites? I sure did, which is when I realized that I’ve been a Gale Ann Hurd fangirl for years and didn’t even know it.

Bonus points to her for bringing everyone a copy of the latest Walking Dead novel and for showing us a preview of season 4 of The Walking Dead. It’s going to be exciting!

Is this your first introduction to this seriously awesome producer? Were you as in the dark as I was about who is behind some of our favorite heroines? I used to love only Joss Whedon, but now I love Gale Ann Hurd, too. Hope you’ll forgive me, Joss.

Orphan Black: Send in the Clones (Video)

BBC Home Entertainment released a video showing a bit about how Tatiana Maslany becomes 7 different characters in Orphan Black.

See Also: The Force that is Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black and The 2013 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Social Justice Issues in Orange is the New Black

I just can’t shut up about this series. There’s a lot in it to think about. Social justice, for example. Continue reading “Social Justice Issues in Orange is the New Black”

Name Your Favorite Supporting Character from Orange is the New Black

I already posted a general review Orange is the New Black in Orange is the New Black: A Winner from Netflix. In that review I asked the question, Can you give an entire cast an Emmy for best supporting actress?

Let’s talk about the supporting actresses in this series. There are so many and they are all so good at telling their character’s particular story. Who’s your favorite?
Orange is the New Black cast

Talking Favorites

It’s hard to choose. Every choice is outstanding. I liked Miss Claudette and Sophia and Nicky and Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett and Yoga. And Red – Red is a scene stealer. I liked Kathryn Kates in her tiny but perfect part as Larry’s mother. So many good choices.

But I’m asking you to choose, so choose I must.

I’m going with Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren played by Uzo Aduba.

Uzo Adube
Uzo Aduba

Crazy Eyes is a multiplicity: bit off the rails, a bit violent, a bit wiser than Solomon, a bit of a poet, and smart, smart smart. Uzo Aduba gives her a certain charm and warmth that I found delightful. She also nailed the requisite crazy looking eyes when needed. Her physicality in this role made Crazy Eyes believable and real.

A favorite episode with her is when Crazy Eyes hears there might be an “acting opportunity” in the prison (a contingent of juvenile delinquents are coming and inmates are asked to talk to them), she marches in and announces, “I want to play a role. Like Desdemona or Ophelia or Claire Huxtable.” She’s smart and funny. When the juvenile delinquents appear, Crazy Eyes does a brilliant reading of some lines from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Coriolanus.

Who did you like the most? Why?

The 2013 Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress

The 2013 Emmy Nominations were announced. The noms I most care about were in the Outstanding Lead Actress category.  Here are the nominees.

  • Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates in Bates Motel
  • Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
  • Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland
  • Robin Wright as Claire Underwood in House of Cards
  • Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men
  • Connie Britton as Rayna James in Nashville
  • Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal

What a great list. I love all these actresses and all these performances and all these shows.

Well, I can’t stand Mad Men. I lived through the 50s once – I don’t need to suffer all that patriarchy again. But I loved Elizabeth Moss in Top of the Lake so I’m happy she was nominated for that, too.

Claire Danes, Connie Britton, Kerry Washington – I lurve them to bits. And a big Hurrah for Kerry Washington for letting herself be filmed with wet hair in the shower with Tony Goldwin and for being the first African American woman nominated in this category in years. I hope she wins.

tatiana maslany
Tatiana Maslany

But, really TV academy people, Emmy nomination people, where the hell is Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black? She really should be on that list. She doesn’t have to win, but cripes, she should have been nominated.

She really should.

Like REALLY should.

Are you happy with the Emmy nominations? What’s your particular favorite category of nominees?

If you’d like to see a complete list of all the women nominated in every category, check out Looking at the 2013 Emmy Nominated Women at Women and Hollywood.

Connie Britton Photo credit: EyesOnFire89 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The Force that is Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

I remember the speech Jennifer Beals gave in Break a Leg about how a woman has to be both beautiful and as good as Meryl Streep to make it in the movies. (You can catch the speech at the 8:29 minute mark in this video.) It is generally accepted in American culture that Meryl Streep is the greatest actress since the origin of the human race. We don’t even have to discuss it – we’ve seen her prove it time after time.

Continue reading “The Force that is Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black”