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'Switched at Birth' recap: Everything is up for interpretation

Season 4 | Episode 2 | “Bracing the Waves” | Aired Jan 13, 2015

There were so, so many good moments highlighting unique struggles in deaf culture in tonight’s episode of Switched at Birth. I’m almost drowning in all the feels that remind me of why I love this show so much. After a Bay-heavy season premiere, “Bracing the Waves” gives us more insight into Daphne’s new world at college. She’s barreling down the pre-med path at her new school, but it’s proving much more difficult than she originally thought. Daphne hired her roommate’s cousin Josh as her interpreter in the premiere because of his experience with chemistry and, in particular, Daphne’s hard-ass professor.

But things get off to a terrible start when Daphne shows up late, Josh reveals his unfriendly past with Professor Marillo, and Josh breaks the cardinal rule of interpreting by picking and choosing what he will and will not interpret for Daphne. And to make matters worse, Daphne has a difficult time landing herself in an accepting study group.

When the study group convenes for the first time, Daphne struggles to keep up with multiple voices chattering on about halogenic-this and entropy-that, made worse by the fact that Josh can’t keep up either. Her study group grows agitated, unwilling to slow down even for just a moment so Daphne and Josh can get on the same page. They break for the night, but only so they can meet up again the next day behind Daphne’s back, excluding her from studying with them.

This is, of course, infuriating and extremely upsetting for Daphne. But it’s really Josh who explodes on the study group, railing into them about how terrible they are. You may applaud Josh for seemingly standing up to unfair discrimination by the group, but it’s not his place to do so. It’s Daphne’s place if she so chooses; Josh is merely there to interpret the group’s part of the conversation. Angry at Josh for attempting to be her mouthpiece, Daphne fires him. It’s only when Josh reveals his history of always being the interpreter for his deaf parents growing up that Daphne realizes why he has a hard time walking the line between mouthpiece and interpreter. Hearing children of deaf parents are de facto interpreters for their parents a lot of the time, making it hard to see the difference between interpreting for them and also speaking for them when situations get complicated.

My heart ached when Josh said he was often blamed when things went wrong because he was the one communicating on behalf of his parents. It’s yet another brilliantly intricate detail of deaf culture, and one I’m glad Switched at Birth included. This strengthens Josh’s backstory (especially because I was growing weary of his super-aggressive, super one-dimensional personality).

Meanwhile, Bay continues to have a rough go of it at community service. She and Tess (Sarah Stouffer) get into it a few more times, creating a nasty hatred between them. Tess blames Bay for getting Robbie in trouble with the drugs and, as such, insists Bay “owes” her for that. But when the opportunity arises for Bay to point the finger at Tess for smashing her phone, Bay takes the high road and says it was an accident. In return, Tess stands up for Bay so she doesn’t have to perform an unsafe task assigned to her by her community service officer. Is this the beginning of a mutual frenemy understanding?

In the adult world, Kathryn brainstorms on adapting her book into a musical, after her dreams of making it into a movie are dashed by a shady producer. Regina strikes up a new friendship with a coffee-shop owner in East Riverside in an attempt to make good on all the hurt she caused with the real estate development last year. It looks like this might actually be a good story arc for her—hopefully with no alcoholism or guns or lying in the near future. Yay, better decisions!

Oh, and by the way:

  • As someone who is proficient in ASL and is very familiar with the practices of ASL interpreters, I found Josh’s role to be frustrating yet heartbreakingly real. He is to be her ears, and her ears only. Choosing what to pass on to her and what not to is more harmful than helpful. In fact, it’s doing the opposite of advocating for your deaf partner to be included and seen as an equal! Besides, it’s not up to an interpreter to decide what his deaf partner should and should not hear. This was an excellent moment for the show to highlight a real and constant struggle for a lot of deaf individuals. It can be said that these problems with Josh are a result of the fact that he is not an actual licensed interpreter. He is not versed in the intricate details and rules of interpreting; he just happens to be fluent in ASL and familiar with chemistry. (I know I’m getting granular here, but it’s the truth.) You can’t just get anyone to interpret for you and expect them to understand its best practices. Kudos to Switched at Birth for layering in a beautiful story like this for Daphne to navigate.
  • When Daphne balks at sitting in the disabled chair, it’s another very subtle nod to the struggle to be seen as an equal with her hearing counterparts. A very small touch, but very real.
  • I miss Emmett.
  • Kathryn is writing a musical. Okay.
  • Bay seems to really be breaking under the community service and separation from Emmett. I’m looking forward to an interaction with her after the fallout from the premiere episode. Eek.
  • Where is Toby!?

Switched at Birth airs Tuesdays at 8/7C on ABC Family.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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