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The Bates Motel Reopens for Business
When it comes to media, be it movies or books, the first installment is always better. Or is it? The A&E network original Bates Motel serves as the supposed prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho, but in my opinion, it surpasses it in almost every regard. Firstly, the characters of Bates Motel are much more fleshed-out and realistic. More specifically, the protagonist of both productions, Norman Bates, has a much more human and intricate characterization in Bates Motel than he does in Psycho. In the beginning of Bates Motel, Norman is shown to have had infrequent black-out periods that cause him to lose control of his body for an unknown amount of time and drive him to extreme violence. It seems that, with proper treatment, Norman could eventually recover from these black-out episodes. However, his mother, Norma Bates, is in denial about her son’s declining mental health for so long that she refuses to accept the fact that her son desperately needs treatment. By the time she does realize her son needs immediate therapy, he is so far along that he completely refuses to seek help. In Psycho, we get very little of Norman’s backstory, except for the fact that his mother was a very domineering woman. Psycho presents Norman as the typical, “crazed”, evil antagonist with whom we cannot sympathize, while Bates Motel acquaints us with the entirety of Norman. The show conveys Norman’s kindness, his shyness and his pain. We get to see a much more human, much more relatable, side of him. Secondly, the atmosphere of Bates Motel is much more rich than that of Psycho. Psycho’s ambience is very disturbing and focuses on being creepy, and it lacks something to balance it out. Bates Motel’s vibe is eerie, but it is also homey. Each character is loveable and has their own unique personality, in contrast to Psycho, where characters are predominantly seen as either the attacker or the victims. Last but not least, the production of Bates Motel is generally better. Since Bates Motel is obviously the more recent work of the two, the effects and events are definitely more realistically portrayed and more believable. Given Psycho’s old age, it is unavoidable that it is a bit more (pardon the pun) “black and white” than its more modern counterpart. However, I think that even if there was the possibility of creating a Psycho series, I think that Norman’s complexity would have still fallen short in comparison to Bates Motel. One’s time would certainly not be wasted by watching either or both. My recommendation: Watch Bates Motel first.