ABC Family’s Switched at Birth is, well, switching things up. Now that Bay is joining her ex-boyfriend Emmett at Carlton, she’ll be making lots of new friends — and some enemies — which will complicate their relationship.
Below, Vanessa Marano talks about the challenges ahead for Bay as she changes schools, followed by an exclusive video sneak peek at tonight’s episode (airing at 8/7c).
TVLINE | Bay was almost peaceful and cooperative in the season premiere. But you can’t have TV without drama, so what’s the challenge for her this season?
One of the last lines in the premiere is Bay saying to Daphne, “How would you feel if I went to Carlton?” That’s a big, big point of this season. The whole show is about the switch and what makes your identity, and this is getting to that point now where we are focusing a lot more on American Sign Language and the deaf community. Bay sticks herself in there, and she’s like, “I’ve dated a deaf guy. I know a ton of deaf [people]. My switchter is deaf. I know a lot about this community. I learned sign language. It’d be a great opportunity for me to be in this different world.” She underestimates exactly how difficult it is because it is a different world. Like any community, there are people who are loving and accepting… and then there are people who are jerks. [Laughs] She’s making friends and maybe making enemies along the way.
TVLINE | Can you talk about what the pilot program is about?
Basically, Carlton, the deaf school, as we know, does not have that much money — i.e. Daphne’s beloved basketball program got cut [Laughs] — so it’s kind of a new way to bring in money to the school. There’s quite a fury about it amongst certain students and teachers because it’s not something they necessarily wanted to be there. They’re just doing it for extra money.
TVLINE | Before when Bay and Emmett were dating, they were kind of separate at their own schools. What does being in the same school do to their relationship?
That’s an interesting part about the hearing kids going to the deaf school. You’re in the same environment now. Does the divider between hearing and deaf still exist? Or is it only existing because people want it to exist? That’s a theme this season, that divider. What is it? Is it actually the physical, like, you can’t hear, you can? You don’t have a sense that the other one shares? Or is it just bigotry throughout the years? So when you see someone different, you just focus on that and forget any other similarity that you share? That was a great thing about the Bay and Emmett relationship — it broke down those barriers. It wasn’t about hearing or deaf, it was just about connection and love. It’s going to be interesting if that can still exist in a world where maybe some people don’t feel like that should exist.
TVLINE | There are two new hearing characters at Carlton — Teo (played by Stephen Lunsford, right) and Noah (Max Lloyd-Jones). Does Bay start a friendship with one of them?
She becomes friends with all the hearing kids. [Teo and Noah] are both having a difficult time blending in, as is Bay, so they’re kind of leaning on each other for support. I can say that one of them has a secret as to why he’s going to that school, and that secret ends up bonding him with Bay, but also way more with Daphne than you would think.