Bates Motel is an American drama thriller developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain), Kerry Ehrin (The Wonder Years, Friday Night Lights), and Anthony Cipriano for A&E. It is a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho, itself based on the titular Robert Bloch novel.
After the death of Norma Bates’s husband, she packs her son Norman up and moves to White Pine Bay where she purchases a motel. Mother and son live in a state of total codependence as Norma is paranoid and unwilling to trust. She dominates Norman and hates any interest he shows in or is shown by the opposite sex. As Norman tries to come out of his shell and form relationships with his peers in White Pine Bay, his mother must go to greater and greater lengths to keep her son’s insanity a secret.
Critical response for Bates Motel was overall positive. It was praised as suspenseful and utilizing fear tactics well. Great performances and sharp character writing also assisted in reinventing this classic thriller for modern audiences. The deeply uncomfortable familial connections and taboo mother-son relationship are deftly handled while remaining creepy and compelling.
Audiences agreed with critics. The debut of the series broke records for A&E. Over its multiple seasons, the show garnered somewhere between 1.8 million and 2.7 million viewers.
If you are a fan of the original Psycho, either film or novel, then you’ll want to check this series out. If you aren’t familiar with the originals, but enjoy complicated and strange family relationships, small towns that hide dark secrets, or slow descents into madness, then check into the Bates Motel immediately.