Especially in the current political climate, people are often afraid to say anything that means something. They don’t want to be controversial; they need to make sure that they don’t drive anyone away in fear of hurting sales. But trying to please the widest audience possible for a show or movie comes at a price: viewers often can take away very little from it.
The Freeform show, “Switched at Birth,” which follows the lives of a deaf girl and hearing girl as their worlds collide after finding out that they were switched at birth, has never shied away from controversial topics. No matter what, it has always covered relevant social issues and sought to humanize groups that are often marginalized and underrepresented on-screen and off. In fact, it won a Peabody Award for its representation of deaf people and culture.
The fifth and final season is no different. The season, which is currently airing on Tuesdays on Freeform, focuses on race relations on campus, and is inspired by the stories of black students on college campuses all over the country. It tackles issues like cultural appropriation, differing treatment of black and white students by school administration, police brutality, the intersection of economic standing and the black experience, and the line between free speech and hate speech. It also considers this important question: “What is the right way to go about making a change and taking a stand?”
This season really opens viewers eyes to what it’s like to be a minority, or more specifically, a black student on a college campus. Most importantly, it sheds a light on the stories of people who are rarely given a voice, and allows us to learn from their experiences, so that we may hopefully empathize with them and stand up against injustice in the future.
And on top of the main theme, the show also addresses what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, what it’s like to raise an autistic child, and of course, continues to provide a thoughtful look into deaf culture. This show is much more than the soapy teen drama it looks like on the surface, and I encourage everyone to watch the series from the beginning to learn about all the different topics it covers: family, identity, class differences, deaf culture, campus rape, and more.
Watch the series finale tonight at 9 pm!
Check out the season 5 trailer here: