ABC Family in recent years has been able to put together some original series that have garnered considerable fanbases. The critical darling of the network is undoubtedly Switched at Birth. Fortunately for fans of Switched and the coming of age trials of Bay Kennish and Daphne Vasquez, ABC Family has officially announced that the series has been renewed for a fifth season.

Switched at Birth follows the stories of two families brought together after they discover that a hospital snafu led to the accidental switching of two baby girls. With the girls now in their teens, their families must work to find a new dynamic out of their bizarre situation.

At face value, the premise of Switched at Birth isn’t altogether original. Shows ranging from Sister, Sister to Veronica Mars have dealt with long-lost siblings and baby swaps. One aspect that really sets the plot of Switched at Birth apart is the way that it has tackled deaf culture as an ongoing story affecting the lives of the characters in different ways. Daphne was left deaf after a case of meningitis in her infancy, and Switched has been refreshingly open in its handling of how she and those around her adapt. The second season even featured an episode conducted in American sign language.

Best of all, Daphne’s deafness is not treated as a crippling disability or explored at the expense of Bay’s development. The lives of both girls are explored in different ways that neither indicate that Daphne is lesser to Bay nor that Bay is lacking story potential of her own. Daphne is deaf, but that’s not all she is, and that’s certainly not all that the show is.

The first four seasons of Switched at Birth that saw explorations of young adulthood, deaf culture, and blended families have won plenty of positive critical recognition for ABC Family, including a prestigious Peabody Award. ABC Family renewing Switched at Birth already is a great sign of faith in the show. The fourth season finale still has yet to air. Nevertheless, Switched has been a steady performer for the network, providing a more family-friendly type of entertainment than Pretty Little Liars. A fifth season will take Switched at Birth across the 100-episode mark, possibly meaning long-term syndication for the series. All in all, Switched at Birth coming back for another season can mean only good things for ABC Family as well as for fans of the show, and we can only hope that the fifth will be just as entertaining as the first four.

The Season 4 finale of Switched at Birth will air on Monday, October 26 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

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