What happens when you take equal parts American Horror Story (a brilliant TV producer creating an endearingly twisted and atmospheric horror) and Twin Peaks (David F–KING Lynch- nuff said), gently blend them in a mixer, and pour the prequel ingredients of Psycho (one of the most pronounced suspense-horror films of all time, Alfred F–KING Hitchcock)?
When you let it sit, you have Bates Motel. It’s unbaked, but has all the pieces for scrumtrulescence (It’s a Will Ferrel word, for you SNL fans).
Bates Motel decided to leave the perfection of the masterpiece Psycho on the high, high, high shelf, where it belongs. Instead the creators of Bates Motel re-animated the characters, focused on them at an earlier point in their lives, and put them in modern day. Risky move. But the reward could be spectacular. This show tip-toes on suspense, never really finding it like Hitchcock ALWAYS found it. But it’s also more encompassing, it surrounds you, and like vines on a fence it wraps and climbs, determined to choke you out. Norma is unwavering, yet she plays her son like a piano, pounding him with heavy basslines, and touching him gently with soft slow notes. Norman, on the other hand, is a momma’s boy. Spoiler alert, you already knew that because he has always defended his mother’s murderous streak.
Norma and Norman are like the king and queen on a chessboard. There is so much complexity to them, so much importance. They are acted so damn well, and their characters are rich, because again, they are based on Alfred Hitchcock’s characters. But two episodes in, we have not seen them hit their stride yet, and that excites me. If they tap into this, and find a way to subvert the path that we know Norma and Norman go down, this could speak volumes to the importance of a traditional family dynamic, which in our post-modern society, is rare. Norman needs a dad, and maybe losing his dad was the last piece before a tornado swept him up and dropped him in a bizarro-Oz, where the brick road is paved in blood.
I want to stay away from talking about the plot, unless it applies to the underlying themes that will make this show special. But I do want to talk about what all influenced this series. So if you want to hear more about how two great TV shows prepared the way for Psycho’s characters to traverse their way into your tube, stay tuned!