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Switched at Birth Review: #TakeBackCarlton

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Well, "Uprising" was definitely different.

I completely understood what they were going for with the all ASL episode, but my biggest complaint was they didn't think we could take the installment without music. The deaf kids can feel music, but they can't hear it. My preference would have been to go full-on silent. I considered turning off the sound, but my trust issues forced me to keep it on. I regret that decision now.

Let me tell you, this was a very difficult episode to review. I normally rely a great deal on the non-verbal communication - facial expressions, arm gestures, people's actions in the background of a scene - to fully grasp the intent of the writer's meaning. Spending so much time reading the intense dialog left me feeling a bit out of sorts. But that was kind of the point of the hour, wasn't it?

Bay Gets Resistance

The kids were faced with the fact that they would soon be "mainstreamed" back into public schools with all the other kids and treated like freaks. Are we really still like that as a society? Do we truly treat people with differences like freaks? The easy answer is yes, because there are a lot of jerks in the world, but as a whole I don't think we do.

Something that caught my attention when they were discussing their past experiences with mainstreaming was when Natalie recollected waiting for "another reject in a wheelchair to be bussed in so there would be someone to sit beside you."

The thing is, no kid holds a prize for being above considering another a freak or a weirdo for any reason. Walking around with the assumption that you'll be treated like one almost guarantees you'll receive what you're after. I have faith that by virtue of the fact Switched at Birth is on the air, we've come a long way from that kind of behavior.

On to the cool stuff about the episode.. Did you know the Gallaudet University uprising really occurred? When another in a line of hearing school presidents was hired, the university protested until its needs were addressed. Using that historical reference here was really enlightening and I'd encourage you to read up on the event.

While Daphne has struggled this season with her deafness and wondered whether she would give accept the chance to hear if given the choice, it was her planning that set the uprising into motion. It was also her strength that pulled the group together when they lost focus once they had barricaded themselves to Take Back Carlton.

The immediacy of social media sent the students' message around the country in a matter of minutes. They had Tweets and emails of support, and an old fashioned pin board to keep track of their allies. Their supporters were hopping into their cars and heading to Carlton to stand beside their comrades and join in the important fight. It was really exciting seeing the kids find their stride and make headway in saving the school that was so important to them.

Like any group of teenagers that gets together, the focus can sometimes become clouded with the excitement of the moment, and in no time at all there were photos being Tweeted out of the protestors chugging back some beers and replies like "I support Carlton's right to party!"

Daphne threw down the gauntlet. Their very lives were at stake. What they started was a serious commitment to prove their education as deaf students was worth defending, and to sully it with booze and condoms would never garner the support of the School Board they so desperately sought to keep Carlton open.

The best part was the discussion between the students at the end, when they tried to decide among themselves whether Carlton should remain integrated or 100% deaf. Hearing from Travis and Bay didn't feel nearly as moving as listening to Noah, wondering just how deaf you had to be to be accepted into the deaf world. That's the problem with putting up barriers of any kind, there will always be a level that someone can't attain to fit the standard you've set.

If Carlton remains 100% deaf, should Daphne be allowed to wear a hearing aid? Wouldn't that give her an advantage over another student who may not be able to afford one, or for whom an aid might not work? Doesn't that challenge the 100% deaf standard?

If Melody is right and being deaf is a gift, then it's something they are obligated to share with the outside world. They should show those who are not able to see for themselves how being deaf can enrich life in other ways by accepting them and introducing them into their culture. To do otherwise will only keep the barriers up and prohibit growth.

Daphne was right when she told Bay it was bigger than family. It's also bigger than the deaf community. It's about time they start exploring that at Carlton.

This was a great installment of Switched at Birth Season 2 and well worth the effort put into it by the actors and crew.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (64 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I don't think the actors using ASL were even signing at full/normal speed, rather they had to slow it down so the subtitles could be kept up for what was deemed a long enough time. The only time I had small trouble was with the longer paragraphs but I kept up with it fairly well. The music really didn't bother me because it added to the effect of the story. Similar to a "They wanted to be heard so "HEAR THIS!" montage and it got me intrigued. The creator wanted us to READ the story rather than just listening to it like we're accustomed and it challenges the audience who are used to multitasking and doing several activities at once, now being restricted to one. Texting and watching was a lot harder than I thought; no wonder lipreading must be so exhausting sometimes. It taught me that one open mind sees more than two open eyes..or ears in this case :)

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I agree with the music as well. As a hearing person I wanted to experience being deaf. The subtitles took a toll on me lol. But I guess it's what deaf people have to deal with. Hearing audience defiantly took a walk in their shoes (with the exception of the music). This anti-hearing thing really annoyed me. We live in a diverse world with people of different races, disabilities, sexes, orientations, etc. Everyone has their quirks, but those quirks make us all unique individuals. In the real world we have to deal with other people who are different then us. It's good that your in a deaf school but you don't have to rebuke hearing people (especially ones that are trying to help in your cause) I did feel the deaf kids were asking for too much. I understand preventing the school board from closing the school, but the demands were just...I was team Bay this episode I feel like ever since the food truck incident Daph has defiantly changed. She should have defended her sister. And don't even get me started with that "rehearsal kiss" from her and Noah. That love triangle situation was something I did not want the writers to write. We'll see how this goes next episode...

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Daphne had a point when she was talking to Bay at the end. There is an entirely bigger picture to focus on. It still doesn't quash Bay's feelings. They have both become like sisters. Bay did push for Daphne and Regina to be closer, however we're not dealing with that chapter. Daphne is on a movement for change, that's not about figuring out where Bay fits in. If Bay, however were to give meaning to her love of Carlton, then we could stand for her and maybe after the battle, there could be a place. Just as Emmet stood up for Bay, a part of Daphne should have while still looking at the bigger picture, because she is more family than he is. Noah and Daphne aren't really an ideal couple. I may prefer Bay's relationship with Noah, but it still doesn't stand out either. When Emmet confronted Daphne about the kiss not being cool, Daphne behaved recklessly as though she could not care for Bay's feelings. It's worse since she knew her past with Emmet. It was really insensitive.

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If the only complaint that is a common thread here is the music, then press the mute button. If you are going to be concerned about missing out on something, well then that is something the deaf struggle with trying to read more than one or two ASL, conversations at a time. I agree with @Essie, the music was important. The deaf sign at or near face level. So one can see their expressions at the same time. It is far different from a non-hearing person who has to read a closed-caption box at the bottom of their screen. You are not seeing their faces, their emotions. ASL is a foreign language to most, and I appreciate the music when I see a foreign film when I try to read subtitles.

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I really loved this episode because it finally hit on a lot of the problems and the joys of the deaf community at large. There is a big big big debate about the level of acceptance in the deaf community. SAB in their first season mentioned the cochlear and said something along the lines that it makes you not a part of the hearing world and not accepted in the deaf world. This is a line a lot of HoH people like Noah walk. The debate on what percentage of deafness does Carlton need to be is a good platform to open this discussion up. It also gave hearing people the ability to try to understand the Deaf perspective. Deaf people generally have grown up their whole lives being shunted aside, having somebody else speak for them, treated like a second class citizen in a lot of areas and in a lot of ways. High school is a harrowing adventure for anyone. Add on top of that you can't communicate easily with 99% of them. These are big issues and I"m excited to see how the characters and plot develops with them.

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What I found funny about it, was at the beginning of the episode, I was having trouble watching and reading at the same time (and yes, that is actually what deaf people have to deal with all the time) but you got used to it. What I almost liked best about the episode was that it didn't forget the continuing storylines of the show within the special episode, like Regina's drinking, this weird thing between Noah and Daphne (when, yes, from what we have learned of Noah, he and Daphne are actually perfect for each other but you feel bad for Bay and conflicted because despite what Emmitt did, he is clearly totally still in love with her). The only thing about the music or lack of sounds episodes is, well, I am not as bad as Noah's condition but I have Meniere's too and there is a constant sound in my head that gets aggravated in loud environments and I know others have it too, its sort of like when you hold a seashell to your ear but with no whooshing sound. It would have been interesting to hear the tinnitis that likely makes him snap so easily.

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To add - my point is basically that I don't believe the show does a good job explaining all sides of conflicts like this one. It's a lot more complicated than the show keeps making it out to be. I get that it's a feature of being a teen drama more than anything but as someone who is hard of hearing I'm like Noah in this situation and as a result I'm bothered by where there story has gone.

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I still haven't watched the previous two episodes and I'm still not sure if I will... I get what they were trying to do with this episode but when the set up feels more like "keep hearing people out!/hearing people are bad!" instead of "keep Carlton open!" I just can't agree with it completely. Also from another review it sounds like it was all students who protested and none of the faculty/staff - which has to look from the outside like a bunch of teenagers who don't know what they're doing. True it's a teen drama but it would have been helpful if they'd had more adults involved. I don't know that using the protest at Gallaudet is appropriate because there were a lot of faculty and stuff who protested as well as the students, not to mention they had the support of the entire Deaf Community on a national level.

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@Essie, while she says the internal lives of deaf people are not "quiet" I don't think she means quiet in the literal sense. As a hearing person who has never been deaf, I will never understand the sense of "noise" a deaf person who has never heard experiences through other senses, but I don't think it would be like music. For me, trying to read and follow the expressions and mannerisms, etc., was a type of overload, and I would have received as much out of the hour in that regard as with the music. That's my take.

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yeah. I agree about the music.

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