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Bates Motel Is The Perfect TV Adaptation Of A Movie

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 16:05 PM

Adapting media is no easy feat, yet Bates Motel managed to expand upon one of Alfred Hitchcock's most well-known creations meaningfully.

p>The fascination with Psycho began in 1959 with the publication of Robert Bloch's novel of the same title. Alfred Hitchcock would adapt the novel into a film the following year, which starred Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, and Vera Miles. Several sequels and reboots have been made over the years, but none have been part of the same conversation as Hitchcock's film. That would change with the arrival of the A&E series, Bates Motel in 2013.

Bates Motel ran for five seasons, and it never stopped delivering Psycho levels of horrifying suspense and gore. The series was meant to serve as a prequel to Hitchcock's Psycho, and for the most part, Bates Motel could lead into Psycho beautifully. Bates Motel stars The Conjuring's Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as the notorious members of the Bates family. Other cast members include Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell, and Kenny Johnson.

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Bates Motel starts long before the events of Psycho. Norma (Farmiga) and Norman (Highmore) purchase a motel six months after the death of Norman's father. Their arrival is quickly opposed by many of the area's locals, including the motel's former owner Keith Summers. He breaks into the home shortly after the Bates' arrival and attacks Norma. Norman stabs the man to death (in typical Psycho fashion) and he and Norma cover up his murder. The sudden disappearance of Keith lands on the radar of Sheriff Alex Romero (Carbonell), who has his first run-in of many with the Bates family. This is only the first of countless grizzly crimes that take place on the property following the arrival of Norma and Norman, though it's soon learned that the property has a history of attracting trouble.

Shortly after the Bates family takes ownership of the motel, Norma decides to employ Emma Decody (Cooke), a classmate of Norman's who acts kindly toward him. Like Romero, Emma begins to question the Bates family over time, as the secrets they keep begin to reach new heights. Norma and Norman aren't the only members of the Bates family that appear throughout the series. Norman's half-brother Dylan Massett (Thieriot) appears shortly into the series and neither Norman nor Norma seem happy to see him. The reason for that unveils itself in the form of Norma's brother, Caleb (Johnson), who Norma is only increasingly rattled to see.

As a prequel to Psycho, Bates Motel does the perfect job at establishing the rocky backstory between Norma and Norman. In the 1960 film, Perkins' portrayal of Norman and the exchanges he has with "Mother," suggested a strange relationship between the two characters. Bates Motel built on the disturbing relationship between Norma and Norman tenfold. Norman's love and admiration for his mother is borderline incestuous, though Norma does little to dispel Norman's odd behavior. Norma doesn't take kindly to the women Norman begins to favor over her and sometimes allows Norman to share the bed with her. Norma and Norman's relationship isn't always ideal and eventually, Norma grows to fear Norman.

Bates Motel largely serves as a prequel to Psycho, but like any adaptation, it isn't an exact tie-in. The fifth and final season of Bates Motel makes a few changes to what would have led to Hitchcock's film. By the start of season 5, Norma has died at Norman's hand, and he routinely talks with "Mother" throughout the day, believing that she has only faked her death. Various other characters realize Norman's inability to process the truth following Norma's death, and the persona he assumes to cope with it. The person that takes the most interest in Norman's odd behavior is Chick (Ryan Hurst), who despite knowing Norman's affliction, decides to stay to subtly study Norman for a novel he is writing about him.

Season 5 is where Bates Motel begins to shy away from solely Hitchcock's story, but it is far from forgotten. It's impossible to discuss Psycho without mentioning one of the most well-known scenes in cinematic history, and Bates Motel knew it. Psycho's shower scene where Marion Crane (Leigh) is stabbed to death conceals just the right amount to keep the surprising twist at the end of the film intact. Marion's relationship with Sam Loomis (Gavin) is what drives Psycho's events into action and Bates Motel doesn't forget their significance. Instead, they masterfully save their introduction for the final season.

Marion (played by Rihanna) checks into the motel and meets her boyfriend Sam (played by Austin Nichols), who is married, unbeknownst to her. Earlier in the season, Norman met Sam's wife Madeleine and had taken a liking to her because of her similarities to Norma. Norman sabotages Sam by telling Marion the truth, leading Marion to trust Norman. "Mother" tries to convince Norman to kill Marion but in order to guarantee her safety, Norman goads Marion to leave the Bates Motel. Sam isn't as lucky and arrives at the Bates Motel looking for Marion. He decides to shower in her room as he waits for her, where Norman, in an ode to Psycho, stabs him to death.

Psycho's final twist that unveils Norman as "Mother" is an unforgettable moment. Going into Bates Motel with the knowledge of what Norman becomes certainly gives the audience an advantage. However, Bates Motel builds on the story of Norman Bates, whom Hitchcock had a major hand in making an iconic horror character. Bates Motel makes the story of the Bates family its own with new characters and a change in setting, but the atmosphere remains the same. Bates Motel not only pays homage to Psycho but is able to stand on its own as a horrifying series about a boy, his mother, and the secrets they keep that never seem to stay buried.

Bates Motel is now streaming on Peacock.

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