Bates Motel is an American television series of a psychological horror kind which was developed by Carlton Huse, Kerry Ehrin, and Anthony Cipriano. It is produced by Universal Television for the cable network A&E. The series is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho which was based on Robert Bloch’s novel of the same name. The series depicts the lives of Norman Bates and his mother Norma prior to the events portrayed in the film, but in a different fictional town (White Pine Bay, Oregon, as opposed to the film’s Fairvale, California) and in a more modern and contemporary setting. Psycho, however, turned tables by killing off the protagonist halfway through the story.
The character of Norman Bates began in Robert Bloch’s Psycho and was partially influenced by Wisconsin murderer and bodysnatcher Ed Gein (who also inspired the creation of other horror icons like Buffalo Bill and Leatherface). Character development and various plot lines take an interesting turn in Bates Motel because we know how it all ended fifty years ago – a deceased Norma, a game-changing shower scene, and a deranged motel owner with a penchant for stuffing birds and cross-dressing.
The show hints at an incestuous relation between mother and son. Both get jealous looking at each other’s crushes or dates. They tend to not approve of any date and we even see Norma viewing Norman’s crush, Brady Martin as a threat. By the time of the film, Norman murders his mother and her lover for attempting to replace him. Meanwhile, in season 2, we are shown a lip-lock between the two. Though, the kiss is meant as a loving kiss from a mother to her son, it continues for a few extra seconds.
The series also shows us the start to Norman’s psychosis. We know that Norma was raped by her brother Caleb when she shares this news with Norman. Norma treats Norman as an equal partner and someone she can trust. In the episode, “Check Out”, we are shown a beginning to Norman’s illness of a split-personality disorder. When Norman confronts Caleb in a motel room, his eyes go dark and his voice changes as he slips into his “mother” persona, reprimanding his uncle for “raping me, your younger sister.” We get another hint to this in the episode named “the box.” Trapped in a box, he hallucinates about Norma telling him, “I’m always with you. Everybody’s mother lives inside them. If you’re ever worried about something, just hear my voice saying it’s gonna be okay.”
The show is a true psychological horror type. It shows us the complex, intimate relation between mother and son and how Norma’s overbearing love and smothering towards Norman cannot heal him and just takes them forward to a very destructive end and that nobody can control.