Where Do Serial Killers Come from? Small, quiet towns. Or, so Bates Motel would have us believe…
If you’ve ever watched Hitchcock’s thriller Psycho, you may have wondered what kind of atmosphere breeds a serial killer. What kind of friends did they have as a child? What was their family like? Were they loved? Well, the Bates Motel series can answer a number of those questions for you. Inspired by Psycho’s central character, this dramatic series gives you a closer look at what the teenage years were like for Norman Bates and how they forged the way to his knife-happy ways in adulthood.
Bates Motel opens with Norman Bates and his mother Norma Bates purchasing a charming hotel in White Pine Bay. The move is a chance for the duo to start afresh after the unfortunate death of Norma’s husband. At first, we see Norman as a simple teenage boy, with nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about his behavior. But as the show progresses, his mental stability unravels. Once we understand how uncomfortably close Norman and his mother are, a general sense of dis-ease really begins to set the tone for the entire series.
At first, Norman is not as enthusiastic about the move to new digs as his mom but he becomes more accepting of the transition as he makes friends. While many of the locals tend to be warm and welcoming, the mother and son pair encounter a few who are less-than-pleased that these outsiders have purchased the old motel. In the pilot we see a grisly encounter between Norma and the former owner of the property which results in a mysterious disappearance.
The first season focuses on Norma and Norman trying to keep the attention off of themselves as the police and sheriff dig around the motel in search of the missing previous owner.
But this is not the only disconcerting occurrence; one of Norman’s teachers also turns up dead. More twists come to light over the course of the season as Norma struggles to keep the motel running by nearly any means necessary.
By the third season, we see the drastic shift in Norman’s psyche and the extremes his mother goes to, in order to protect him. But as time passes, Norma finds herself more fearful of her own son and desperate to get him the help he needs. Her terror at what he’s become is what inevitably breaks the strong bond we saw at the beginning of the series. At a certain point the trust they once had for one another seems shattered. Norman tries to keep his grips on reality but this becomes a complex, if not impossible feat for the young man.
If you are looking for an intense dramatic thriller with literary emplotment and addictive characters, then Bates Motel is definitely worth catching up on.
TV HACK Rating
- Bates Motel