When watching any television series, one must note the target demographic of the television series in order to understand the context surrounding such a show, and in Switched At Birth, the existence of its demographic of young women creates a unique context that allows for a simultaneous combination of modern and antiquated depictions of gender.
One of the more bizarre elements includes the depiction of the activities of women (versus men), since by all other accounts, Switched At Birth remains fairly equal in representation, with a roughly 50-50 male-to-female ratio. When examining such depictions, an unusual pattern emerges; generally, females are engaged in more conflicts than males yet also receive more plotline elements. For example, the only notable male-to-male conflicts that arise are between John Kennish (Bay’s father) and Daphne’s father, with every other major event, from Bay and Daphne’s competing love interests, to their indignation at the truth about their father being hidden from them, and to even Kathryn’s memoir, involving at least one (and in many cases, two) female characters.
On the one hand, this change could be viewed as positive, given the fact that unlike previously (during the “peak TV” era), female characters, for once, carried most plotlines. However, this must be tempered with, again, the understanding of the target demographic, which is primarily comprised of younger generations, which would desire greater representation, and females, who would desire greater representation of relatable characters to watch the show. Thus, this could be interpreted as merely pandering to such a fanbase.
On the other hand, however, much can be stated about the actual content of each plotline. For example, most clashes between characters, in fact, occur between two females or two girls, such as, again, Bay and Daphne competing for love interests such as Liam, or Regina hiding the truth from her mother and daughters.
Based on this interpretation, it can thus be interpreted that although female characters are heavily portrayed, their negative portrayal ultimately results in a net negative. Of course, though, as always, the truth resides within the middle (due to competing interest from both the viewer base and a conservative management wishing to not offend any viewers, including older, less socially accepting viewers).