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'Switched at Birth' ASL episode draws big ratings

Viewers didn’t adjust their TV sets when they discovered that Switched at Birth was being performed entirely in American Sign Language last night. Instead, they turned out in droves — making the ABC Family show the night’s biggest scripted cable telecast among women aged 12 through 34. Switched also scored a few timeslot victories, earning a .8 rating among adults 18-34 that made it the night’s most-watched scripted cable program at 8 p.m.

Sounds like a victory to us.

Read more:
EW’s Morning Bite: And the best sound bite from last night is…
‘Switched at Birth’ announces first all sign language episode
‘Switched at Birth’ first look: Regina and Angelo’s ex share a pregnant pause — EXCLUSIVE

'Switched at Birth' announces first all sign language episode

ANDREW ECCLES/ABC

When it debuted in 2011, Switched at Birth garnered a lot praise for having multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing regular characters, as well as for scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). Now the show is kicking it up a notch in season 2, announcing an episode told entirely in ASL, which they say is a first for a scripted series on mainstream television. It will air on Monday, March 4 at 8:00PM ET/PT.

It will be from the perspective of the series’ deaf characters – with open captions for hearing viewers. The storyline will put the audience in the middle of a student uprising in which the very essence of their deaf identity is at stake. Now that Bay has joined the Carlton school for the deaf’s pilot program for hearing kids with deaf siblings or parents, we can get a sense of how things could get heated.

“I’ve been wanting to do an all-ASL episode since the series began, and the storyline we’ve been focusing on this season gave us the perfect opportunity. It’s an exciting, visual, empowering story of kids who are different fighting back, and it allows our audience to experience the world as our deaf characters do. We’ve been building to this for 39 episodes and we’re all thrilled to be the first to try this,” said series creator and Executive Producer Lizzy Weiss. Season 2 just started on Jan. 7.

More Switched at Birth:
‘Switched at Birth’ first look: Regina and Angelo’s ex share a pregnant pause — EXCLUSIVE

'Switched at Birth' first look: Regina and Angelo's ex share a pregnant pause -- EXCLUSIVE

Switched at Birth has a habit of putting its teenaged characters through the ringer — and most of the time, their parents don’t get off any easier. Case in point: After years of scrounging to make ends meet and raising her deaf daughter alone, former alcoholic Regina (Constance Marie) thinks that she and Angelo (Gilles Marini), the biological father of her biological child Bay (Vanessa Marano), are finally going to be together. And then, in the show’s Jan. 14 episode, Angelo drops a bomb: He’s gotten another woman pregnant.

“It was just the most devastating scene to shoot,” says Marie. “It rocketed my character right back to the core of the original pain and betrayal and hurt, right when Regina had thought that there was finally a ray of sunshine in her life.”

Things get even worse when Regina shares a very awkward elevator ride with Lana (Annie Ilonzeh), the mother of Angelo’s second child. Here’s an exclusive first look at that encounter:

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