I’ve been dying to see this show for months now, and I was not disappointed. The writers of A&E’s Bates Motel definitely do what they need to in balancing out respect for the original Psycho, with attempts to make the characters their own. Not to mention, they also hit the nail on the head with the over all tone of the show, and with the casting.
Here’s something that’s a little awkward though: in order to appreciate this show, you’re going to have to admit that the kid from The Spiderwick Chronicles got kind of hot. And, not your standard Hollywood hot, but the kind of smolder that comes with being able to adequately pull of playing Norman Bates. That, “I’ll either pleasure you or stab you in the neck,” kind of hot. Compound that with the fact that Freddie Highmore is also barely legal, and what you get is the appropriate kind of sexual discomfort that the creators of this show were going for. After all, there are a certain amount of Oedipal vibes afoot with this show. In addition, every single female who comes into contact with Norman, seems to be attracted to him.
No less strange however are the plot twists of Bates Motel. A lot of viewers obviously know what happens to Norma and Norman in the long run, but there is room for interpretation in these early years that are depicted in the show. The writers made a smart choice though, and instead of having Norman be the same creeper he is in Psycho, they leave us wondering who exactly the bad guy is as every person in town seems to be questionable. Even the cops change sides, and the criminals are just as dodgy. Oh, speaking of criminals, Norman was also given a brother in the series, and though at first I hated the whole idea, I quickly warmed up to Dylan, and now consider him a protagonist in the show. Seriously, you’ll want to see him succeed before it’s all said and done. Even MOTHER is pretty morally grey. Viewers will spend most of the show thinking she’s one thing (edited for spoilers: you’re welcome), only to find out that the motivation for her actions reflect the opposite disposition we thought her character had. Luckily, all of these changes happen at pretty rapid fire too, which is fortunate because we all know how annoying it is when a show tries to run on the coattails of one event for an entire season. Oh no, Bates Motel offers you far more than one measly murder.
The most curious and perfectly balanced aspect of Bates Motel has to be the beautiful confusion of the time it is set in. The show is modern enough for iphones, SUVs, and girls dressed like extras for pop music videos, yet some characters, like Norma and Norman, Emma, and Miss Watson, are always dressed in vintage wear. Seriously, it’s no wonder Miss Watson is such a femme fatale (pun intended). On top of this, the show is also shot in a manner that screams 70’s horror, with its washed out colors and dry filters. No modern gloss to the look of this show, which is quite appropriate for its Northern American setting.
Overall, I really liked this show. I hope season two keeps the momentum going!