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Saturday, 17 of April of 2021

Switched at Birth – “Portrait of My Father”

“Why don’t you pull out your smartphone and tweet about your newfound love of social justice.”

The title of this episode is somewhat misleading. Yes, the search for Bay’s father is a plot point but it’s a very B, maybe C plot point. And John is such a terrible father/person that I refuse to believe this title is about him as well. But we’ll get into all of that.

My reviews of Switched at Birth should just be running counts and commentary on the uncomfortable, arrogant, racist things Kathryn says or does. After an awkward run-in with a neighbor, she feels the need to define the relationship between the two families to save face. Chicks, man. Why can’t they just let stuff be what it is?

She continues her reign of terror by expressing her discomfort with Regina having clients from her old neighborhood coming to the house so she can do their hair. Cause I’m sure when crime broke out in Regina’s old neighborhood it was the short, gray-haired old ladies who were mugging people and holding up the liquor store at gunpoint.After displaying her hatred for all things Latina, Kathryn goes on a shopping spree for Daphne. She didn’t know her sizes so she just bought everything. Everything she does comes from her own selfishness. She wanted to shower Daphne with gifts (subtle way of winning points over Regina). She inquired about an open chair at her hair salon so Regina could work there. May seem nice on the outside but she did it so there wouldn’t be any strange Latina women roaming the premises.

Regina decides to go see about that salon chair and after connecting with the owner (he started doing hair at his grandmother’s place) she agrees. Her first client: Denise, some stuck up housewife friend of Kathryn’s. Denise wastes no time questioning Regina on all things Kennish. When Regina tells Kathryn that her friend was talking mad shit about her (in somewhat nicer terms) and Kathryn turns it around on her. She says she can’t believe that after she gets Regina a job she just goes and talks about her and her friends. A person has to try very hard to make everything about his/herself and Kathryn is a master of it. What motive would Regina have there?

Kathryn admits that she doesn’t want people to know the truth because all she has s being a mom. No career, no hobbies, just motherhood. And if people knew she had raised someone else’s daughter they would treat her differently. Bay too, but that’s far less important. She tells Denise about the baby switching and the living situation. Denise admits to gossiping and applauds Kathryn for handling the situation the way that she has. God Denise, if only you knew specifics.

John looks like a maximum creeper showing up at Daphne’s school all the time. Does no one think twice about the older fellow in the sports jacket coming to watch young girls play basketball? Marlee Matlin plays Melody, Daphne’s basketball coach. John lays on the lie to her but she already knows the story, Regina told her everything.

Daphne asks John to come by practice again sometime. He says he was already planning on it. Because as a white suburban father he is predisposed to complaining that his child is not getting enough play time or not getting the ball enough or any other objection he can think of. Daphne may think this will be some great bonding time, bio-dad coming by and giving her pointers, but it could only be so long until this goes south in a hurry.

And it does. John’s parental nagging got Melody to hand the coaching position over to him. If he wasn’t already pushing Daphne, he sure as hell will be now. He wastes no time being the overbearing coach dad. He eventually causes Daphne to quit. John apologizes (motherfucking GASP) for pushing her to hard. He sees potential in her and wants her to be great. He just thinks she’s stuck laying in her comfort zone. Very honest and profound for such a terrible father. But it hits home because something really clicks for Daphne. Yes, let’s finally discuss the girls.

Daphne has been blowing Liam off because he didn’t defend her when his friends were ridiculing her. He says he didn’t know she was mad. Confirmed: Liam is an idiot. While an idiot he may be,  it seems as though he really does like Daphne. He calls her asking for another chance. After an awkward conversation with the interpreter, Daphne gets her point across: she’s not interested.

Turning to Emmett for advice, Daphne asks him (after getting another text from Liam) is he’d ever date a hearing person. He says it could never work because she would never understand his culture or his view of the world. While I do believe his personal reasoning, I cant help but think his own feelings for Daphne may have played a part in his answer. And could basically saying that Daphne is his ideal girlfriend have been anymore obvious? Too bad for Emmett. After the aforementioned heart to heart with John, Daphne decides to give Liam another chance.

Typically Bay had been the one person to relate to, or at least side with in this show. She decided to play the other side this week as everything she did made me shake my head. I understand the need to find her father, that storyline I get. I was surprised it came up this early in the show. But it’s realistic that she’d want to know as soon as possible. All we know early on is that Bay’s dad left when Daphne was young. Perhaps on a pokémon journey? Regina says their lives are better with him out of the picture. She might as well have just given Ba his address and saved everyone a lot of time.

Next step: Bay brings the dad issue up to Daphne, wants to know if she’d been keeping in contact with him. It’s obviously a sore subject for her as she says she wants nothing to do with him because he wanted nothing to do with being a dad. Bay points out he wanted nothing to do with being her dad, Bay might be a different story. Oh Bay, I was always on your side but now you’ve gone and made a Liam level idiotic mistake.

After Daphne was no help because she was a huge bitch to her, Bay goes to the grandmother to get the info she needs about her father. Apparently he wasn’t a terrible guy, it was just a really bad breakup for the both of them. She asks Bay to just drop it. And that’s about all we get out of this storyline. It was more to remind us that this is a story they’re going to get to rather than having much real movement on it.

But Bay did have another story in this episode. Unfortunately she suffered from stupidity yet again. Ty needs a new alternator for his car and Bay shows up with a handful of cash. A nice gesture, sure, but that’s insulting to Ty. He says he won’t be some rich white girl’s charity case. When Bay tells Toby about what happened with Ty he says there’s more of Kathryn in her than she knows. And it’s true, that is such a Kathryn move.

So there were a few character surprises in “Portrait of My Father.” Bay was the one caught with her foot in her mouth on multiple occasions and John and Kathryn were the ones learning lessons and growing. That gives me a little hope for them all moving forward. In one final out of character move for John, he tells Bay (after having informed her the lawsuit was continuing to punish the hospital for the mistake they made) that she is a blessing to them. The lawsuit has nothing to do with her and they are lucky to have the daughter they got. Aww.

Can’t wait to see how he fucks up next week.

Final Thoughts:

  • I’ve never been as aware of the Closed Caption symbol when watching a show as I am with Switched at Birth.
  • “I think it’s a euphemism for another word that starts with b.”
  • “It’s the way of the WASP”: slogan for this and every other show on the network. And the CW.
  • Katie Leclerc is gorgeous. Just gotta put that out there.
  • What a cool phone! An interpreter who translates speech to sign? That’s some Jetsons level shit.
  • Melody is Emmett’s mom. Because of course she is. This world is as small as possible. If anything John is probably both Bay and Daphne’s biological father.
  • Does kissing a girl mid rant like that really work?
  • Very sweet moment when Daphne gives Bay the picture of pregnant Regina. Those two need more screen time together.

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