When Alfred Hitchcock crafted the Bates family for his classic thriller Psycho, he painted an incredibly vivid picture of the relationship between tortured hotel proprietor Norman Bates and his overbearing mother, Norma. And all this without so much as a scene with the latter… as anyone who has seen the movie knows, she was dead the whole time — something her son had a smidge of difficulty accepting. The power of Hitchcock’s creation provoked questions about the Bates’ lives before Psycho. Who was Norma Bates? How did she die? And what on Earth did she do to her poor son? It seems as though a few of these ideas will be explored in the new A&E series Bates Motel, which will serve as a prequel to Psycho. Deadline reports that newly cast as a young, and alive, Norma is Vera Farmiga, who has featured in movies like The Departed and Up in the Air.
Actually taking a look at a character as iconically nonexistent as Norma Bates (seriously, name one fictional character who is more famous for turning out to actually not be real in the end) will not be an easy task for the creators of the series. How can you craft someone like Norma as a driving force worthy of our investments, knowing full well she ends up oppressing her son to the point of psychotic delusion and obsession with her?
In an age where the idea of the anti-hero reigns supreme, the show might be able to make this work. We might not need to root for Norma so long as we’re compelled by her. We can watch her eat away at her young son’s psyche (if Norman is indeed in the picture yet), or perhaps sink her teeth into the minds of unsuspecting motel visitors.
Can it work? Farmiga is a pretty capable performer, so she might be able to deliver the fabled character with enough poise and flavor to make it her own, yet remind us of Hitchcock’s storytelling strengths. What sort of character do you envision Norma Bates being?
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]