‘Bates Motel’: Why you should watch it

March 18, 2013 | 8:15 a.m.

“Bates Motel,” the 10-part series, has its premiere tonight at 10 on A&E, and with “Psycho” as its source of inspiration, one has to wonder: Can it come anywhere near the greatness of that macabre masterpiece?

It might or it might not — but what it does have going for it is Mama Bates & Son.

The TV series is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic from 1960 starring Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.  The series attempts to tell the story of how Norman came to be Norman, the motel proprietor under the thumb of a mother long dead.  As Starpulse notes, this is not a direct prequel, though you may not realize it until you see young Norman on his iPhone.  The website calls this as much small-town soap as the story of a young man’s descent into madness.

But the relationship between the pair — Norman and Norma — can be riveting, as well as “eew.” Together, the Boston Globe says, they “share secret knowledge of one, and possibly two, murders,” and the teenage Norman quotes “expressions of love” from “Jane Eyre” to his mother as they dispose of a dead body.

Oscar-nominated actress Vera Farmiga stars as Norma Bates.  And she alone makes “Bates Motel” worth watching, writes Los Angeles Times’ TV critic Mary McNamara:

“Norma is a high-wire character, requiring deft and constant juggling of the believable and the absurd, of the ordinary and the extreme, the beautiful and the repulsive. Farmiga, Oscar-nominated for “Up in the Air,” is an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of a performer, while [Freddie] Highmore, most recently the star of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” meets her scene for scene.”

If nothing else, “Bates Motel” could inspire you to re-watch “Psycho.”  (The famous ending is below.)

As for Mama Bates, Hitchcock’s original makes it clear she wasn’t such a bad person after all.  She wouldn’t even harm a fly.

–Amy Hubbard | @AmyTheHub


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4 Responses to ‘Bates Motel’: Why you should watch it

  1. donn says:

    they wonder where kids get all of there crazy ideas from. this is a prime example.everytime i see a commercial for this show it reminds me of the kid and his mother from newtown conn, that just killed his mother and twenty six children. he looks like the guy, and she looks like the mother. what good does a show like this do.

    • Ariel Thinwish says:

      Your implication that the existence of such material in the media is linked and what's more correlated to atrocious criminal acts, is flawed if not completely ignorant. By that logic, all aspects of popular culture should be banned; just because I watch Breaking Bad by no means am I going to run off to my Chemistry teacher and propose we start a Meth Lab. Rather than pin immoral or unethical behaviour as directly linked to media and aspects of life beyond our control, we should be looking at the nature of our society in that it allows individuals as the one you cited to go by unnoticed until the worst occurs. What we should be looking at is the lack of help provided to troubled individuals and society's uneasiness when mental health is concerned.

      • @BookLoverC says:

        Ariel your very correct! Actions are entirely dependent on an individual.
        Media is there sure but anyone can realize obviously not to imitate it or let it rot their minds.

    • David says:

      I've no time to sit here and explain why what you've said is stupid so…

      You're a doo dee wet blanket!

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