On Monday’s (March. 3) episode of “Switched at Birth,” everyone’s strapping on their dancing shoes.
The ABC Family hit is taking another artistic risk on par with last season’s all-sign language episode, though this time around, they’re getting a little footloose and fancy free. In a special dance-themed episode, each act will feature dancing scenes, including one very sultry Viennese waltz between Melody (Marlee Matlin) and Angelo (Gilles Marini).
Zap2it had the opportunity with speak with Matlin (through e-mail) about the performance between the two “Dancing With the Stars” alums, previewed in the exclusive photos above and below, and what risks she’d like to see the daring show take next.
Zap2it: How excited were you and Gilles to have the opportunity to touch back on your “Dancing With the Stars” experience for the special dance-themed episode? Did either of you find you’d gotten a little rusty?
Matlin: In the three seasons that both Gilles and I had been on the show, neither one of us had done a scene together. Though Melody was Regina’s best friend and Regina remarried Angelo, there was never a scene where all of them or Melody and Angelo were together (much to my disappointment. LOL). Not until this upcoming episode. When I was told I would be dancing with Gilles and would have to rely on my dance steps I learned on “DWTS,” I was excited, yet horrified. Excited because who wouldn’t be? Dancing with two time “DWTS” celebrity pro and sexy Frenchman, Gilles Marini?! But horrified because I might have forgotten all my steps that I learned and might embarrass myself in front of Gilles. Anyway, Gilles was definitely not rusty; he’s been on “DWTS” TWICE whereas I was on back in 2008. In the end, Gilles was very skilled, very patient AND I had forgotten I was a quick learner and could draw on my own natural rhythm. After a few minutes I found myself able to fall back into those familiar steps, this time with some great scenery to look at – Gilles. What a great pair we would’ve made on another season of “DWTS”!
For all the ladies (and, of course, men) who certainly want to know, what’s it like to do the Viennese waltz with Gilles?
He is an excessive flirt and is constantly asking to learn dirty signs but so am I. He is definitely sexy but at the end of the day he’s all about fun. Sometimes I struggle to read his lips with that French accent, but who needs to read lips when he moves so effortlessly on the dance floor? He is definitely a dance champ and I love him.
Since its inception, the show hasn’t shied away from taking risks either with the story it’s telling, its landmark representation of the deaf and hard of hearing community and how it goes about telling its story (i.e. the all-signing episode or this upcoming dance-themed episode). What has it been like to work on a series like this? Which barrier would you like to see it tackle next?
I’d love to see the show tackle an environment where it’s flipped – where hearing characters have to learn how to operate in a deaf world, like the one you would find at Gallaudet University (the world’s only liberal arts college for the Deaf). I know we had an all signed episode but I would like to see something closer to what you would find in the real world at Gallaudet – a deaf environment with hearing characters having to learn about the Deaf world. Perhaps when the kids from Carlton, even Bay and Toby all go to college at Gallaudet. There are so many story lines at Gallaudet, based on real life controversies there.
Maybe there’s a sports controversy? Perhaps there is a crime story ripped from the headlines around Washington DC. And of course there’s the always reliable deaf vs. hearing story lines. A good example of that went on when Kathryn was tackling what to do when Deaf students walked out of class to participate in the school board meeting. The conversation that Melody and Kathryn had (with Daphne interpreting) was a powerful one – full of nuance and emotion – from both sides, hearing and deaf. I’d love to see more of this because it’s what’s real, it’s what’s out there. And of course I’d love to see more deaf characters. I know that some people might have a problem with subtitles but I’ve never heard anyone say (maybe because I’m deaf? LOL) that they thought the show had too much signing. Everyone has told me how much they love it when “Switched at Birth” tells it like it is particularly when it comes to the Deaf community.
When the season began, there was a major focus on the clash between the new and old students at Carlton. In recent weeks, the show’s moved away from this a bit. Will we return to that conflict this season?
I hope we do but I’m not privy to what’s going on in the writer’s room. All I know is that fans are asking for more signs and deaf characters and that they loved the Deaf/hearing clashes at Carlton. I hope we get a chance to see more of those — soon!
In the most recent episode, Melody and Travis had a row over him skipping his Gallaudet interview. What can you tease about that and how this sort-of adoption situation will continue going forward?
Melody has invested a lot of time and hopes in turning Travis’ life around, seeing as he grew up in a home where he got little parental support and where communication in sign was non existent. Initially, Travis does well and his self esteem improves. But when things get rough or he’s distracted by girls, he falls back into his old behaviors and ends up dodging his future, even lying to get out of moving forward with his life. Melody finds this frustrating because she sees so much potential in Travis and by the time we seem them in Episode 8, she’s nearly had it with his defeatist attitude. She wants him to know she’s there for him (unlike his real parents) and that she has his back. When he continues to shun her, she gets frustrated and upset and basically offers him an ultimatum; shape up or ship out.
“Switched at Birth” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. PT/ET on ABC Family.