I would like to declare BATES MOTEL a massive victory for A&E. Heavy on reality-type shows but light on scripted series, it could have easily been an epic failure from many fronts. Would A&E make it too vanilla? Can FREDDIE HIGHMORE act post-puberty? Is there enough material from the iconic movies to build an entire series from? Will MIDWEST MIKE ever regularly post to the blog again? Sorry, I got carried away with my hypothetical questions there.
In Monday night’s finale, we saw Norman finally snap after weeks of struggling with his many layers of sexually fueled frustration. Norma also came clean with some of her past demons to comprise the single most awkward conversation a mother can ever have with her son before a school dance. The Jake Abernathy issue was solved once and for all by Sheriff Romero and Dylan finally softens a bit to his mother. Overall, a great conclusion to a fantastic season.
Was the season completely perfect? Find out inside.
Answer: About as close as possible… Let’s explore the pros and cons.
Positives: essentially everything. The cast. FREDDIE HIGHMORE, VERA FARMIGA and MAX THIERIOT had great chemistry as the Bates family. NESTOR CARBONELL was excellent as the town sheriff, OLIVIA COOKE was great as Norman’s sickly friend and the addition of JERE BURNS near the end was a stroke of casting genius. The story fits perfectly with the source material but stands on its own to warrant many more seasons of creepy fun. A&E’s balls to keep some of the material as hard/violent as they did. Not overly violent like HANNIBAL (not like it’s a bad thing), but not Mickey Mouse-vanilla like they could have easily done. Visually, a gorgeous example of television filmmaking.
Negatives: not many, but then again, I would not do what I do if I didn’t have some sort of critiques to casually lob out there. Miss Watson was awkwardly irritating to me all season long, so I guess she deserved everything that happened to her. Was it 1960 or 2013? I saw what they were trying to accomplish bridging the movies with the series and it worked most of the time, although it did get a bit hokey every now and again. Finally, The high school social scene. Let’s get one thing straight: Bradley would have never willingly banged Norman in a million billion years. For as awkward as he was socially, he would have been an easy target for unrelenting ridicule. Instead, he was accepted a little too easily by everybody and the realities of being the weird kid in high school was never realistically explored. Hollywood writers pay attention… here’s a better setup. Norman is the secret brunt of jokes and unbeknownst to him (since he’s oblivious to most things) is the laughing stock of the popular crowd. Bradley loses a bet and sleeps with Norman, leads him on for quite a while and eventually calls him out in front of everybody at the dance which pretty much destroys his whole world where he ends up accidentally murdering out of sheer desire to be accepted. There it is folks, I’m for hire.
Gripes aside (and I was reaching a bit for one or two of them), the first season of BATES MOTEL completely deserves a solid “A”. Can’t wait for the return in 2014!