Bates Motel: Come check in

Madison Viola reviews the first season of the modern-day prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.”



Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) sit in front of their newly bought home, which resembles the iconic “Psycho” house.

In March of 2013, a new thriller made its way on the A&E network. This suspenseful and enticing drama is called “Bates Motel” and it stars Freddie Highmore (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “August Rush”) and Vera Farmiga (“Orphan,” “The Conjuring”).

 Based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror film “Psycho,” this contemporary-styled TV show centers on what happens before the inevitable events that take place in the classic movie. I would highly recommend watching “Psycho” before watching “Bates Motel” because knowing what happens in the film makes viewing the show more interesting, though it is not necessary to watch the movie to understand the show.

The first season of the A&E drama is composed of ten episodes, with each episode lasting around 42 minutes; though it feels like the episodes are twenty minutes sometimes because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the storyline of the show.

The story of this compelling TV show revolves around quiet, shy guy Norman Bates (Highmore) and his emotionally unstable mother, Norma (Farmiga). The mother and son start a new life by buying a motel in a small town, and some horrifying and disastrous events unfold as soon as they arrive at their new home. What really makes the show absorbing though is the visually stunning atmosphere it encompasses as well as the enthralling characters.

The character of Norma Bates is not thoroughly developed in “Psycho” but Farmiga creates her own Norma, making her wonderful to watch. Farmiga was actually nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role as Norma. With her angry outbursts and emotional breakdowns, Norma can make an audience member both laugh and cry.

With Highmore’s portrayal of Norman, the audience gains empathy for Norman that may have been absent in the Hitchcock classic. Also, Highmore is no longer the cute little kid from “August Rush.” He has really grown mature in his acting abilities and shows diversity in Norman’s emotions as well as Farmiga.

Then there’s Dylan Massett who is depicted by Max Thieriot (“House at the End of the Street”). Dylan is the half-brother of Norman. This character is not mentioned in Hitchcock’s film so adding Dylan to the timeless Bates family creates a fresh, captivating angle for the story.

“Bates Motel” is cinematically beautiful as well. The quality of the picture is just as good as some fantastic movies. The picture is sharp and pleasing to the eye and the darkness of the picture fits in with the eerie tone of the show.

The relationship between Norma and Norman is the main focus throughout the series. The characters have an extremely close bond and aspects of their relationship may seem appropriate to some, while inappropriate to others. If you’ve seen “Psycho,” you would know that this part of the story is quite important and pertinent.

Since A&E is mostly known for their reality shows such as “Duck Dynasty” and “Storage Wars,” I find “Bates Motel” to be a hidden gem. I watched all of the first season in a matter of two nights because I was so enthralled by it and absolutely loved it.

You can catch up on the first season of the “Twin Peaks” inspired thriller on Netflix now and then tune in to the second season premiere on March 3 on A&E.