Bates Motel: Season 1


With the wonders of Netflix and the ability to binge watch tv shows like never before, family time has now become Netflix time. I’ve always done reviews on the books and movies I have seen but with watching more and more tv series I thought I should tackle these as well. It began with watching the Dexter series. All available on Netflix which makes for the perfect, and ideal, binge series. The series was so intense at times I felt like my heart couldn’t take any more!  Unfortunately I was not prepared to do a tv series review for Dexter. I thought that taking on each episode with a short blirpe might have been too much so for my first tv series review I’m going to start with Bates Motel and after watching the entire first season. 

Bates Motel is based on the fictional character Norman Bates of the famous slasher film Psycho.  I’ve never seen the movie Psycho but I imagine that will be changing as part of my exploration with Bates Motel. 

Season 1 begins with the tragic passing of Norman’s father in an accident in the garage. Norman is the one to find his father, but the events and the actions of his mother give us our first inkling that things are not quite right. After receiving the insurance payout from her husbands death, Norma and Norman move to the town of White Pine Bay, Oregon. Using the money and trying to create a new life and a fresh start for the two, she buys an old motel and decides to fix it up.  The previous owners are not too happy about losing the motel and the property and it becomes obvious, very quickly, that the town may even be more disturbing than Norma and Norman’s secrets. 

Norman Bates is played by Freddie Highmore. This has taken me quite awhile to get use to, and in fact I still don’t think I have adjusted to it. Highmore has played in many notable films while growing up and many oddities of his personality shine through any role he plays. Mix that with the strangeness of the character of Norman Bates and it is hard to separate where one ends and the other begins. In many ways this is beneficial to the show and the overall effect. 

Norma Bates is played by Vera Farmiga who has starred in a long list of films in the past, and ongoing, and yet for some reason I had to search for her name and look into who she was. Norma’s character could be considered even more disturbing than Norman. She has secrets from her past but I believe we have only seen a glimpse of those. At times she acts like a normal mother, but the relationship between Norma and Norman is anything but normal.

Dylan Massett, Norma’s other son, is played by Max Thieriot.  Thieriot’s resume of films is not as lengthy as the first two, but he is still young. The only film of his I have seen is House At the End of the Street.  His character is reserved and ultimately disturbed which isn’t a huge jump into his role in Bates Motel. Hopefully he can evolve and portray different characters more fluidly to further his career. Dylan appears a few episodes within the season with the initial role of a drifter. As the season progresses, we are fairly certain he will be sticking around for awhile. 

Emma Decody, played by Olivia Cooke is Norman’s friend, and may be his only friend. Cooke hasn’t starred in many films, the only title I knew was Quija, which I have seen, but can’t remember her. Emma is the sweet, innocent and awkward girl from school.  Emma has cystic fibrosis and her best friend is an oxygen tank she drags around with her. Although her character isn’t shocking or disturbing in any way, yet, you can’t help but love her. 

As each episode progresses more characters are introduced, while others disappear. The wholesome town has many secrets and the businesses running the town cause for some complicated dynamics. The pull towards shows like these is the knowledge that there are still many episodes ahead. I believe this makes the episodes more intense as you now have to struggle to comprehend how the show will continue, what path it’s going to take and who will be left standing when you get there. I’m not sure how my reaction would have been watching it live.  In order to like this show, you have to be open to more disturbing films.  There are no scenes of moral guidance highlighted by touching music. No song birds and skipping.  Rape, drugs and death are a reoccurring theme. 

If I were to rate the first season on a scale of 1 to 10 it would be somewhere between a 6 and 8. It hasn’t completely blown me away yet, but it has caught my interest and is able to keep it enough to want to continue the series. And as mentioned, thanks to the wonders of technology, I have already jumped into season two. Stay tuned for my next tv series review of Bates Motel, Season two. 


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