Teenagers with overprotective moms seem to be a common theme among many new hit television shows. Take for instance, Clay Jensen’s mom in “13 Reasons Why,” who shows serious, almost controlling concern for her son’s health throughout the series, or Beverly Goldberg in “The Goldbergs,” who’s constantly interfering in her kids’ school lives in worry of their happiness.
“Bates Motel” takes this motherly role to a whole other level, where Norman Bates needs his mom to the point of actually becoming her. A&E just released its finale for the show on Monday, which is a proposed prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's famous film “Psycho.”
Over the course of the show, viewers are presented with some of the most interesting takes on dissociative identity disorder and how it took over Norman Bates' life. This means that at times Norman looses himself as the main personality, and becomes a totally different person. We see this throughout seasons four and five when Norman has blacked out, but wakes up in peculiar locations.
The writers introduce many characters that have an effect on Norman’s mental health, many of whom have little to no representation in the original film. Each character’s given a backstory and conflict that mixes with the main plot to create a well-developed show.
This makes “Bates Motel” a remarkable creation that takes one of Hollywood’s most innovative films and puts it in modern-day context.
Freddie Highmore plays the demanding role of not only Norman Bates, but Norman’s separate personality of his mother, Norma. He does an amazing job of portraying an unconventional character like Norman in an honest manner, never faltering when having to deal with abstract or more challenging scenes.
In season three, Norman begins to understand that he’s having blackouts and that he becomes a totally different person during that time. Highmore continues to portray Norman in these scenes as a confused teenager, but there’s also something darker hidden within his psyche that we may not know about just yet.
In every twist and turn Norman comes face to face with, his mother’s always by his side. The two created an unbreakable bond that many from the outside would consider unhealthy. She would do anything to protect Norman, and vice versa.
Vera Farmiga’s known for her amazing portrayal of Norma Bates, and the chemistry she shares with Highmore on set. Over the seasons, she’s shown the true emotions a mother would have for a son that’s mentally ill. In the final season, she’s given less screen time, but continues to embrace the camera with the necessity of portraying Norman’s disassociative personality of Norma.
She’s able to play both the caring mother shown in the first four seasons and the hauntingly dangerous interpretation Norman has of her. Farmiga and Highmore’s bond on set is what brings the show to life, no matter what season or development of the story they’re in.
The last season of the show is a little harder to watch, as someone who’s been with the Bates family since its first season aired in March of 2013. The season focuses on Norman’s newly independent life after the death of his mother, and those characters that know of his dark side are no longer around him.
He continues to fall deeper into DID, which means that the mother on the other side becomes stronger as well. People in their small town are constantly disappearing without a trace, and no one can identify the killer with the constant struggle of corruption in the local police.
As the original film starts, Norman lives alone in his house taking care of the family motel, while struggling to bring in guests and make a decent living. Season five of the show sets this up in a way that allows the show’s writers to spin their own version of “Psycho” without ruining any of the film’s original themes.
New characters in the last few episodes are given the same names as the main characters of the film. Therefore, the ending of the series becomes more clear and defined as the major events found in the film also take place in the show.
Watching Norman in the final episode is an emotional roller coaster of conflict between wanting him to take responsibility for his actions, versus wanting ultimate happiness for a man that’s struggled so much with who he is.
The entire show will have you building a stronger relationship with the characters in each episode, making the ending that much more important for such a successful series. So, it’s up to you to decide whether or not Norma and Norman Bates’ endings are well-deserved.
Maddelynne Parker is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Maddelynne at firstname.lastname@example.org.