THE PERFORMER | Katie Leclerc
THE SHOW | Switched at Birth
THE EPISODE | “Ecce Mono”
THE AIRDATE | July 8, 2013
Playing the sweet, nice character can be a thankless task. So while Katie Leclerc has been consistently good as the ABC Family drama’s Daphne, it took this past Monday’s “What If” episode — in which she played a completely different version of her character — to make us really appreciate just how much the actress puts into her good girl act.
Without Regina in her life, raised from the age of 3 by the Kennishes, Daphne became a vapid mean girl interested in all things expensive, cute and popular — especially clothes and boys. Leclerc brought the personality makeover to life with such sharpness and spunk that it made us sit up and take notice. (Her resemblance to Mean Girls‘ Rachel McAdams didn’t hurt, either.) Whether Daphne was skirting her parents’ rules by exploiting their weak spots with easy, manipulative charm or flippantly insulting her “sister” Bay (Vanessa Marano) (all using her real voice — makes the work that goes into maintaining Daphne’s accent each week all the more remarkable, doesn’t it?), Leclerc was a study in the art of bitchiness.
Then things took a turn when Bay to suggested to Daphne that she could use a visit to a shrink. “You could figure out why you’re so empty,” she said.
That’s when Leclerc’s performance went from fun to something deeper and truly impressive. Daphne tried to fill her hollowness with a random hook-up, but a boy would not take away the ache. Crying in her closet while clutching a stuffed animal the morning after, Leclerc transformed her mean girl into someone broken, vulnerable and sympathetic.
As Bay began to dig for the truth about her biological mother Regina, and tried to bring her sis into it, Leclerc maintained a certain level of detachment, giving Daphne’s journey of self-realization an unexpected level of complexity. Even as the two girls looked upon their mother’s grave, Daphne’s expression was confused and unmoved, almost as if she wasn’t aware of all that she’d lost with Regina’s passing. It wasn’t until the episode’s end that she finally realized what was missing in her life and made a simple request, imbued with hope and sadness by Leclerc, to Regina’s mother: “I want to know more.”
HONORABLE MENTIONS | It’s easy to dismiss ABC’s Mistresses as a lightweight summer soap, but that doesn’t diminish in any way the terrific work turned in by Jes Macallan in “Payback.” In the episode’s final, heartbreaking scene, Macallan’s party girl crumbled as she learned Savi had kept from her the news of her pregnancy — and her extramarital affair — while dishing said dirt with their pals. When the sisterly tiff opened the door for Savi to pass judgment on Joss’ promiscuous lifestyle and declare they were nothing alike, Macallan delivered Joss’ choked-up retort — “You’re my sister and I would never hurt you. Never. I would never do what you just did to me.” — with such a palpable ache that it was hard not to reach for the Kleenex.
General Hospital‘s Kirsten Storms delivered a major punch to the gut when her beloved character Maxie was both treated to and haunted by a surprise “reunion” with her late sister Georgie. Through sobs of joy and sorrow, Maxie was forced to face some unpleasant truths about her recent questionable actions (she’s currently carrying her own child, but passing it off as the unborn baby of her best friend), and appeared to come out the other end of the otherworldly visit better for it. Storms turned in a performance that evoked sympathy for her selfish alter ego, no easy feat indeed.
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- Katie Leclerc