Last night’s series premiere of Bates Motel actually impressed me. I’m so used to watching dramas that entice us with amazing premises and then fail us by sucking, that it’s a nice change of pace to actually like a show. You know, to finish something and feel intrigued by the premise and impressed by the acting. It’s an odd feeling these days. But that’s probably because I’m watching way too many shows that air on Bravo. How I long for the days when I didn’t know the name Vanderpump. When I could pretend that the Dukes of Melrose place were just the names of action figures that Lord Disick played with when Kourtney Kardashain left town. Oh the indignity of my life!
But enough about my brain slowly melting away and back to Bates Motel and how much I loved it. The series kicks off with a death. So I’m in, immediately, without a moment’s hesitation. Then it gets better right away. (Better than murder in the first minute? I know, I know. Sometimes good things do happen to bad people who read blogs.) Within minutes, we realize that Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) has a thing for her son Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore). It’s not that she wants to date him, it’s more like she doesn’t want anyone else to date him. Or talk to him. Or look at him. Even if they’re wearing Transition lenses and you can’t really see that they’re looking at him.
Now before we continue let me preface with the fact that I’ve never seen the movie Psycho. So while I know the basic premise of the story, most of this is new for me. So if you’re reading this and being all like, “everyone knows Norma had Lifetime-esque feelings for Norman,” I’m sorry. I’m new to this whole thang.
Anyway, where were we? Oh right. Norma feeling inappropriately attached to her son. In the kind of way that might turn one’s son into a serial killer (dun dun dun). So they move to this small town and buy a motel and start to meet the locals. Now small towns can go one of two ways on TV. Either everyone’s incredibly friendly and outgoing and “welcome to Podunk USA!” Or everyone hates you because you’re from out-of-town and they spend crazy amounts of time trying to devise ways to run you out. This small town is the latter of the two. At least for Norma. No one likes her. Especially the guy who’s family used to own the motel and let her know this in quite the threatening manner.
Things start off a little differently for Norman though. While small towns hate single moms, they love single boys. The ladies are all up in his face on the first day of school and he even gets invited to a party. But his mom’s all like “no, you cannot go to that party because I want you to help me draw a bath later.” And Norman goes into full Mary Camden mode and is like “ugh, I hate you, I just want to be normal for once.” And the show winks because normal, Norman, Norma. Like every teenager in every show ever, Norman sneaks out of the house to go to the party. He’s just about to get a kiss when we cut back to the Bates Motel and see his mother being raped by the guy who threatened her earlier. Norman gets back from the party and stops the guy by knocking him over the head. Then, as he recoups from what he just saw and did, he watches his mother murder the guy by plunging a knife into his back so many times that she knows that no jury will ever buy self-defense. [Cue a therapist falling off his couch 30 years later when he hears this story take this turn.]
So mother and son begin a long night of bonding, also known as disposing of a dead body. First they put him in a bathtub in one of their empty motel rooms because dead people like to take baths too. Then they dump him in a lake and have a lovely talk about their love for each other. Norman basically proposes to be his mother’s BFF for life. And his mother basically plays it cool before agreeing to the deal.
Then the show ends with someone (WHO!?!?!) plunging a needle into a lifeless woman (WHO!?!?) who’s chained up somewhere (WHERE?!?!).
Like I said in the title, if you liked the Arrested Development episode of ”Motherboy”, but wished it had more murder and more ominous lighting, you’ll l-o-v-e Bates Motel. Oh and happy early Mother’s Day!