I want to talk about one of the current storylines. So, naturally, spoilers ahead. Firstly, I want to start by saying that I love this show. It's one of my favourite shows and this is the first time I've ever had a real issue with something happening on the show.
That said, the current storyline is bugging me. I haven't watched the most recent episode yet, because I haven't had time, but I wanted to mention this before, so I figure I should just do it.
Background: SAB is about a couple of teen girls who were, you guessed it! Switched at birth.Daphne is a redhead who came from a low income Hispanic family, whose dad left when she was young because he was convinced she wasn't his, (she wasn't) and therefore her mother had cheated (she hadn't.) Bay comes from a wealthy family whose patriarch used to be an MLB player and now runs a successful carwash and recently became a state senator. Sound convoluted? Let's mix it up some more. Daphne became deaf at age 3, when she contracted meningitis and didn't get treated in time because her mother was off the wagon. She goes to a deaf high school called Carlton. Through a confluence of events, Bay now goes there too.
As Carlton is a deaf high school, predictably the enrollment numbers are fairly low. That means with budget cuts, the school was in danger of being shut down last season. In the spirit of OWS, the students staged a sit-up and got the school kept open. On one condition; students from another district would be bussed in to fill up the space and make room in the budget.
Now, my problem:
The new season has started and the new out of town kids are in. There are more of them than deaf kids because of the initial low numbers, so it feels like they've "overrun" the school. Predictably, they are majority black and latino students, and even more predictably, they are "problem children"; all the cast offs from their previous school that no other schools wanted to take.
Now, because Daphne was raised Latina and Bay is Latina, and Regina (Bay's birth mom, Daphne's heart mom) and her mom are also Latina and feature pretty heavily in the series, SAB has always been pretty good about race. They've never done anything more that surface level stuff, but they've never made any missteps either that I can recall.
But this season? This season there are two recurring black characters (the first with any real screen time) and they are both terrible. One is a doctor at a clinic that Daphne is working at as part of her community service hours for blackmailing a senator (long story) and the other is a black girl in her class from the new school. The doctor is rude and mean to her, and even though Daphne is in the wrong, (she was late) the audience is made to sympathize with her.
But the story with the black girl is the bigger problem. She is literally every "black girl with an attitude" stereotype rolled into one. She gets up in Daphne's face, she starts a fight on the first day, she mocks the deaf kids. You get the idea.
The real issue however (I know! So many issues!) is that with all of this change, the deaf students' tires have been getting slashed. Naturally, with the new students being the only change, everyone blames them. Except (wait for it) IT WAS ONE OF THE DEAF KIDS, purposely vandalizing people's cars, so that the new kids would get the blame and be bussed back out.
THEY LITERALLY TRIED TO BLAME IT ON THE BLACK KIDS.
And while this is happening, all the parents are up in arms about the "thugs" who have "overrun" the school, and about how their kids aren't safe etc. etc. The usual dog whistle race baiting nonsense.
And I kind of... am surprised? Because it's not like race has never come up on the show before. But it really make me think of how relative privilege works, because Carlton is 90% white, deaf kids; you'd think they'd be the ones with less privilege. They're DEAF. But nope, even in their place as outsiders to the mainstream, they found it necessary to flex their privilege against the minority students. Which is really, really shitty.
And what kills me is that there is a scene where Daphne confronts the black girl and she (Sheree, I think her name is) tells her that she blames her for having to get up at 5am everyday to get to school and spend 45 mins on a hot bus, away from all her friends. As in, they show that at the end of the day, the new kids really got the shit end of the stick. Carlton got to keep their school, while these kids are dealing with new surroundings, teachers, classes in their senior year.
And it makes me want to gouge my eyes out at how badly they're handling it. I mean, I do love the show, and this is the first issue I've had with it, so I want to say that I'm 80% sure that as the storyline plays out they'll deal with it properly, but in the meantime I just want to punch things.