My addiction to American Horror Story has got me hooked on TV shows. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of like Community and Sex and the City, but it was AHS that made me appreciate how TV has evolved into a sophisticated form of entertainment. Stories are well-developed, characters are nicely fleshed out, and producers are sparing no expense in special effects to make the small screen larger than life. Hello, Game of Thrones?
It took me a few weeks to watch all episodes of AHS, and now I’m branching out to other shows. I finally got around to watching the pilot episode of Bates Motel, the “modern prequel” to the classic film Psycho. It examines Norman Bates’ life pre-Marion Crane, and takes a look at the events that made Norman who he is.
I’ve only seen the first episode but it is clear that his relationship with his mother is, from the start, quite disturbing.
It is this mother-son dynamic between Norman and Norma that I find most fascinating about Bates Motel. There’s something disconcerting, almost incestuous, about a 17 year old boy telling his mother “you’re everything to me, and I don’t ever want to live in a world without you. You are my whole life, my whole self. It’s like there’s a cord between our hearts.” I find this much creepier than the famous Norman Bates line “a boy’s best friend is his mother.”
The dialogue is a hint to Norman’s dependence on his mother, but it’s great to see how this was developed. Norma is domineering and he tries to break away, but she is a master at reverse psychology, using it to guilt Norman into doing what she wants. Naming Norman after her, after all, is a telling sign.
Freddie Highmore plays Norman, and his innocent nerd-boy appeal is a nice touch. There is no trace of the glint Anthony Perkins and Vince Vaughn had in the previous adaptations of the novel by Robert Bloch. As far as the pilot goes, he does not have any strange leanings, except for his unusual closeness to his mother. Vera Farmiga plays Norma (coincidentally, she is the older sister Taissa Farmiga, one of the leads of AHS), and she is able to subtly show Norma’s idiosyncrasies.
I also liked how the producers remained faithful to the Bates Motel legend. The house and motel is exactly the same, and even the interiors of the house is a replica to the one in Alfred Hitchcock’s film.
I’m ready to invest in Bates Motel. It’s obvious that the writers, producers, and director put a lot of thought into it, dropping subtle hints as to what would happen in the future. The show is a great prequel to what scared millions of people through time.