Thanksgiving is a time for family. What better example of this than Norma and Norman Bates? I started Bates Motel on Netflix, and now I’m all caught up, so I can watch it next March on A&E. I love this show. Here’s why:
1. The cast.
Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates is heavenly. She hits on all the right notes–moments of tenderness, crazy mom-isms, and fierce pluck. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m scared of Freddie Highmore, the sweet little boy from August Rush. Freddie has Anthony Perkins’ shoes to fill, and that’s a tough job, but Freddie handles it well. He’s a bright, optimistic boy that loves his mother, but when that cracks, Freddie handles the shift well. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times it’s an explosion.
Olivia Cooke plays Norman’s best friend, Emma, a spunky girl with Cystic Fibrosis. In a show like this, you need a unanimously sweet character to soften everything else.
Max Thieriot plays Norman’s half-brother. He acts as a foil–part of the family, but not Norma(n).
Finally, there’s Nestor Carbonell, who plays the no-nonsense town sheriff. I’ve enjoyed Nestor since his days on Suddenly Susan. He develops an unlikely friendship with the Bates family.
2. The generosity.
While there have been several sequels and remakes, none have captured the essence of the original movie, which was a smart adaptation from the book, further supported by an incredible director (Aflred Hitchcock) and a mesmerizing performance by Anthony Perkins. A prequel show is a generous gift to the world, who is left at the end of the movie with a lot of questions and continued fascination with Norman. Since we never met Norman’s mother for real in the movie, I’m thankful they have chosen to explore it on the small screen. Even smaller matters get explored. For example, I know why Norman does taxidermy, do you?
3. The suspense.
There are few shows that I have binge-watched, but this is one of them. Because all of the characters have unique motivations, they are forever interrupting each others’ plans. The show also does a good job of giving you moments of sweet joy…then taking them away. The suspense builds internally and externally. The internal layer is within the current story world; the external layer is as you gather clues for how Norman is going to become the Norman Bates.
4. The set.
It’s just plain fun being in the Bates house and motel. They built a replica of the original set to film in Canada. In the movie, we hardly spend any time in that mysterious house. It’s so nice to be invited inside for a visit! Also, the motel in the movie is running on empty. In the show, they have just purchased the motel, so they have a clear dream, and only the audience knows where it’s headed.
Have you watched Bates Motel? What do you think?