There seems to be a new obsession sweeping the television nation; backstory. And not just any backstory either; backstory of a serial killer set in modern settings. After all, the Hannibal television series by Bryan Fuller have somewhat delighted fans and brought new ones to the Lecter fandom. Hannibal has a perfect balance between character development, tantalising and beautiful horror and some strong acting. With the success of Hannibal and plans for an American Psycho and Man On Fire television shows, movie based television shows are all the range.
Bates Motel is about mother and son, Norma and Norman Bates. After the death of Mr Bates, the father, the two relocate and buy a motel on a highway, hoping to start up a new business. Unfortunately, Norma’s over bearing attitude to her son and Normans attempt to be normal don’t get them off to a good start and soon the murders start racking up. But surely, nothing like dead bodies to strengthen the bond between a mother and son.
Before we delve in the slating, nothing is going to be taken away by the fantastic Freddie Highmore. After all, the transition from child actor to serious thespian is a difficult one. But there is no doubt here that Highmore is talented and fantastic. Managing to take on a role so famously and brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Perkins, there was a lot of pressure to excel. And excel he does. He manages to capture the awkwardness of Norman, the fragile manipulated mind and a brewing menace. But he also layers an innocence that you can’t help but warm to him despite his future deeds.
But what is more maddening is that not even half away through the show, we are subjected to a rape scene. This seems to become the trend with horror movies and now, horror series. Any woman who is either strong or manic must be subjected to downright degrading acts in order for us to “understand” their transformation. Not only is this an incredible jarring scene but it is misplaced and misused. The perpetrator is in the show for two minutes beforehand, having little plot preposition before his attack and then ultimate demise. It seems that the perpetrator and the rape are placed in there to get a rise from the audience. And it is horrific. But it is horrific because the subject is dealt completely heavy handed. Fitting every stereotypical rape scene that came before it, the act is unnecessary and the way Norma deals with it is ridiculously over the top, and wrong. It is jarring as it is insulting. There is a lack of imagination here and underwriting that enrages.
There is not enough strength in Bates Motel to carry that weight. Norma had potential due to the mysterious death only seconds into the show that she may or may not have caused. She could easily be a psychotic overbearing mother without having to be subjected to sexual violence. But nevertheless, the writers play fast and loose with a serious topic without thinking or research. Add this to an already boring and contrived show, and everything about it spells wrong. Bates Motel is dull and tiresome.
I will not be staying over again.
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