I love Bates Motel. A&E’s Psycho prequel is addicting, well-written, and brilliantly acted. Being a fan of the films I was a bit skeptical that this project would work in this era, but my fears quickly subsided when the pilot episode aired. Two years later I now find that this is one of my favorite shows on TV. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are killing it each episode as Norma and Norman Bates respectively, and coupled with the fact that the house and motel are close to exact replicas from the films, I would find it hard to believe that any Psycho fan would not enjoy this show.
My only criticism at this point is that I believe the character of Norman is being desensitized based on the writing of all the other characters on the show. Fans of the films know that Norman will grow up to murder his mother, and because of the guilt, he will end up taking on her personality and essentially becoming two beings. Female guests that stay at the Bates Motel and arouse Norman sexually will be murdered by “mother” with Norman having no idea that he did the deed. Alfred Hitchcock’s original Psycho film (as well as the three sequels) portrayed Norman as an inimitable killer. It was the basis of every plot and what made Norman stand out as the main character because he was THE killer in this series of horror flicks.
Bates Motel is quite different when it comes to Norman being unique. So far in the series the following characters have all killed someone: Norman, Norma, Sheriff Romero, Deputy Shelby, Bradley, Dylan, Zane, and Gil. In just twenty-three episodes, Norman is just one out of eight people who have killed someone. It hardly makes his trademark characteristic distinctive in the grand scheme of things. After all, this is the story of why Norman Bates grows up to be a killer. Having Norman as just one person in a town filled with killers devalues his main trait.
I still think Bates Motel is remarkable, regardless of my thoughts on this issue. Perhaps the writers, led by Kerry Ehrin and Lost’s Carlton Cuse, are taking us down a different path instead of towards the story laid out by the Psycho films. At this point I think they may have to, because it will be hard to make Norman Bates stand out as “the” murderer in this town.
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