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'Switched at Birth' fan recap: I don't see you any differently

Season 4 | Episode 12 | “How Does a Girl Like You Get to Be a Girl Like You” | Aired Aug 31, 2015

This show. I mean. This show! How I love thee.

At its heart, “How Does a Girl Like You” is an episode saturated with culture. Specifically, addressing a certain culture, embracing said culture, and then trying to change the conversation around it.

In the first half of season four, Switched at Birth told one of the most unique stories on TV when it told the story of Bay’s sexual assault at the hands of someone she trusted, Tank. It was far from a black-and-white story, and it took rape culture head-on and tried to change the conversation surrounding it. It felt like a giant WAKE UP!—and it was amazing.

And because Switched at Birth is such a good, good show, the story didn’t end after only a few episodes. Bay’s rape shattered the perception that sexual assault is always black and white, and it shined a light on a lot of the biggest issues surrounding rape culture today: blaming the woman, making excuses for a guy, giving him preferential treatment because he’s an athlete, saying she was asking for it, etc. You’ve heard it all before.

The immediate fallout was brutal, but it’s a situation that seeps into lots of dark places, going away and then coming back, like the ebb and flow of a swift tide.

And just when Bay tries to insert some positive forward momentum into her post-Emmett life by enrolling in a Spanish class at UMKC, the tide comes in again … when UMKC sets up a mandatory sexual assault seminar as a direct result of her assault.

Students are abuzz about a seminar they don’t feel like they should have to go to, they’re giving Bay the side-eye, and hushed whispers say, “That’s her. She’s the one, you know, from the party.” It all becomes too much when she accompanies Travis to a soccer game and feels the ever-present stare and palpable finger-pointing on her back. Travis lashes out at a guy who had unkind words to say to Bay.

Top that with a mother whose only response to a sexual assault on her daughter’s campus is to blame the victim and then take her daughter out of that school and ship her elsewhere (you know, where I’m sure sexual assault never happens), and you’ve got a lot of people who just don’t know how to handle the conversation about rape.

When Kathryn tries to connect with this mother by appealing to her maternal instincts and revealing that Bay was the one assaulted and that she’s staying put at UMKC, the mother ignorantly states that UMKC is “not a safe place for girls” and insinuates the assault was Bay’s fault because she got “so intoxicated she doesn’t know what’s happening.” I love Switched at Birth for calling attention to these ignorant ideas about rape and the insane way in which sexual assault warps people’s abilities to have a rational thought process. I also applaud Switched at Birth for addressing rape at all, and for highlighting the stigma that rape still has in this world, and all of the horribly negative ways in which the victims are still treated in a situation like this. Keep it up!

But it’s not just rape culture Switched at Birth is going after—it’s abortion culture too!

When Lily and Toby finally have a heart-to-heart about the pregnancy and the baby’s Down syndrome diagnosis, there are no stones left unturned. They discuss all the pragmatic reasons why having a baby is a bad idea, and Lily is honest with Toby about her own special-needs brother. She tells him how difficult it was on their family to raise him, but she also tells him how much a true treasure he was, and that he changed her life forever. (Having a special-needs sister of my own, I found myself very verklempt during this conversation.) Lily knows that having a special child would be hard work, and so does Toby. Even though they initially come to the conclusion that not having the child would be the best choice, it’s a beautiful thing to see them talk it out and know that they wouldn’t make that decision based solely on the fact that their child would be special.

Which is a nice parallel to some serious conversations Daphne ends up having with Mingo about a similar opinion. When Daphne tells Mingo about what’s going on with Toby and Lily, he’s very quick to jump to the opinion that special kids just have tougher lives, and that if you have a choice to have or not have a kid that you already know might have a disability, then why wouldn’t you just avoid that trouble?

Rightfully so, Daphne is a bit appalled when he likens her inability to go to dark clubs or improv shows or hear music to someone who has Down syndrome—if only because he’s insinuating that all people with a disability or difference inherently have crappier lives than those who don’t. It’s an ignorant opinion to have, and it cuts Daphne to her core. Daphne even tries to talk to Toby about how having a baby with Down syndrome could change his life and not ruin it, like so many people are prone to think. She practically begs him to think their decision over more, imploring him to understand that yes, people treat people with disabilities differently, but it doesn’t mean that kid is going to have a crappy life. Especially not when its parents would see to it that that kid is treated equally no matter what. It’s an emotional note for their dynamic to hit, and I’m always so glad when Toby and Daphne have serious little moments like this.

But Mingo being Mingo, he sort of apologizes? And he tells Daphne he’s going to learn ASL so he can communicate with her and understand her better. It’s enough to sweep Daphne off her feet, so I guess all is good there.

Meanwhile, everyone is all of a sudden in need of money right when John is about to lose it all! Funny how that all works out, huh?

Daphne needs tuition money because she lost her scholarship (pesky chemistry), and Kathryn donates $50,000 to UMKC when that ignorant mother not only pulls her daughter from the program, but her gigantic donation as well. Naturally John is keeping this all to himself, which bodes very badly for one of my favorite characters on the show. Wonder how that’s going to play out. John, don’t let me down!

Oh, and by the way:

  • Bay is taking Spanish with Mary Beth. Hooray!
  • Travis’ admission to Bay that he was sexually assaulted when he was a kid was both very touching and heartbreaking. I just love Travis, and I’m so happy watching his friendship with Bay blossom. Also, he’s one of the more level-headed and true characters on the show now, and that’s lovely.
  • So do you think Toby and Lily are going to have the baby or not?
  • Kathryn’s heart-to-heart with Bay about her rape is beautiful. Maybe it will be something Bay learns from and grows stronger from, and maybe it will “always be awful, but true.” Defensive or not, quiet or not, learning experience or not, Bay’s decision on how to handle this is Bay’s decision.

Switched at Birth airs Mondays 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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