Switched at Birth TV Poster Image

Switched at Birth

Family drama's responsible messages are good for teens.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Families cope with stressful situations, bridging cultural and socioeconomic differences to find common ground for the sake of their teenage daughters. Communication is essential to their success, and characters do their best to talk out their problems. The story deals thoughtfully with issues like identity, self-confidence, and tolerance of differences among teens. In some instances, teens poke fun at a deaf character, but the brief exchanges help illustrate the show's positive messages about respect and tolerance. A teen rebels against her parents by painting graffiti and breaking family rules, but in most cases, she owns up to her mistakes.

Positive role models

Bay's and Daphne's parents have different styles of raising kids, but both sets of parents are invested in their kids' lives and want what's best for them. For that reason, they try hard to set aside their differences and find a way to coexist for the girls' sake. Often the teens are the ones who open their parents' eyes to the need for open discourse and attempt to see the situation from different perspectives.

Not applicable

Flirting and a some kissing between teens, along with a few instances of mild innuendo about physical attraction.


Some use of "hell" and "damn."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

No underage drinking, although there's some mention of pot and of a teen using a fake ID to buy beer (for which she's arrested). A main character is a recovering alcoholic who takes a firm stance against teen drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thought-provoking drama promotes family-friendly themes like respect, responsibility, and coping with adversity. Two sets of parents approach child rearing in different ways, but both have strong value systems that they impart on their kids, and they make clear their expectations of them. Expect some rebellious teen behavior (some of which is criminal and goes unchecked), references to drinking and pot, and language ("hell" and "damn," mostly). A main character is deaf, and her struggles to assimilate into a hearing family and social settings raises awareness of deaf culture and society's tolerance of difference.

What's the story?

From the outside, Bay Kennish's (Vanessa Marano) life as the privileged daughter of an ex-pro athlete, John (D.W. Moffett), and his devoted wife, Kathryn (Lea Thompson), is idyllic. But inwardly, she's always felt a little out of place in her family. Even so, nothing could have prepared her for the shock of learning that a hospital mix-up when she was a newborn sent her home with the wrong parents. When the truth comes out and she comes face-to-face with her working-class birth mother, Regina Vasquez (Constance Marie), and her parents' biological daughter, Daphne (Katie Leclerc), who is deaf, Bay feels as though her world is spinning out of control. Tensions rise when financial pressures force Regina and Daphne to move in to the Kennishes' guest house and newly blurred boundaries suddenly challenge the value systems that each family holds dear.

Is it any good?


SWITCHED AT BIRTH is a thoughtful drama series that explores family relationships, teen issues, and the challenges and rewards of connecting with someone who's vastly different from you. Although the story centers on a unique (and improbable) challenge that two families face, its messages resonate with a much broader audience, and families of any make-up can use the story to talk about how the show's themes of tolerance, perseverance, and battling stereotypes relate to issues they face in their lives. True, the show does gloss over the intense emotional fallout that this scenario would raise in real life, but it doesn't shy away from conflict altogether, forcing the characters to overcome their differences and great adversity to find common ground.

Beyond the main story, there's also a subplot surrounding Daphne's deafness, which gives a candid portrayal of society's response to disabilities and fosters respect for different ways of life. Sporadic language ("hell" and "damn," mostly), teen rebellion, and references to pot and teen drinking are present, but the overall messages of responsibility, communication, and respect are what will stick with teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about tolerance. What challenges arise when you try to relate to people from different backgrounds? What situations have forced you to do so? Why is it important to try?

  • Tweens: Do you find the families in this show believable? Can you relate to their problems? In what ways do the characters draw on their family structures for strength? Do you do the same?

  • How does our society as a whole respond to people with disabilities? What strides have been made to better accommodate people's differences? How far do we still need to go? What stereotypes exist regarding people with disabilities?

TV details

Premiere date:June 6, 2011
Cast:Katie Leclerc, Lea Thompson, Vanessa Marano
Character strengths:Communication
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Switched at Birth was written by

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Parent of a 16 year old Written bygolfvilla July 19, 2013

Very Discouraging: The main charcter (a minor) decides to have sex with her older boyfriend.

My daughter and I loved this show mainly because I am losing my hearing and it helped us learn ASL together while being entertained. We were both very disappointed at the last episode and decided not to watch the show any more. It has gone the way of most shows on the ABC Family channel which seems to take pride in showing minors experimenting with sex. In the last episode, Bay (a minor) decides to go ahead and pursue her encounter in the bedroom of her new boyfriend who just returned from Afghanistan. Legally, he would be charged as a sexual predator. Very sad! This was a great show. Bay had even asked advise from her half sister (also a minor) who told Bay how great her first encounter was and advised her to pursue her first sexual encounter.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent of a 13 and 17 year old Written byLightOfTruth June 2, 2014

Not Wholesome Entertainment - Christians Beware!

ASL and Deaf Culture being a huge part of the show were the bait that intrigued me enough to begin watching "Switched at Birth." The acting was decent and it generally had a compelling story line. However, I was appalled by the frequency of sexual promiscuity and other immoral behavior being touted as normal and appropriate. In fact, traditional Christian values were presented as outdated and even unhealthy! Besides the adult characters having lots of sex outside of marriage and committing adultery, the teenaged characters fornicate frequently. At 15 years old, Bay attempts to have sex with a 19 year-old because she feels the need to get rid of her virginity as she is made to feel ashamed that she is still a virgin. Toby's AND Nikki's parents encourage them to have sex instead of waiting until they are married even though Nikki is a Christian and has pledged to save herself until after she is married. As the only Christian character on the show, Nikki is portrayed in a very negative light. Sadly, all the "voices of reason" persuade Nikki to fornicate with Toby before they are married and when they decide to marry, their marriage is regarded as a huge mistake because they are 19 years old. This show made me sick with all the immoral behavior it promoted. I would never want my children to watch this show - at ANY age! Children are very impressionable and are looking for role models in their favorite shows to emulate. I would be heartbroken if my children patterned their lives after ANY of the main characters in "Switched at Birth."
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byJanieDough September 8, 2014
I enjoyed watching it myself during the first season. However I quit watching in season 3. Too much teen sex and it seems to condone teen sex as normal and unavoidable behavior. Sorry but I would like to teach my kids to wait. It shows under age drinking and a lot of lying and rebellious behavior. The made the Christian girl, who claimed to believe with her whole heart, date and even marry an unbeliever which is unbiblical. Then she turns from her faith just because her dad sold drugs. She has sex before marriage when she only had one day to go? What kind of message is that? She is made fun of by main characters who call her "churchy" as if it' makes her a freak. No longer a fan of this at all.