The A&E show, "Bates Motel," ends its five-season run tonight, taking us full circle to where it all began: with Norman Bates as a mild-mannered psychopath and his mother as a stuffed corpse. But for the past four seasons, Norma Bates was very much alive – principally brought into being by the actress Vera Farmiga and the show’s co-creator Kerry Ehrin.
The two women recently spoke with Frame contributor Carina Chocano about creating the character of Norma.
Their Norma was very different from the the mother in Hitchcock's "Psycho." Ehrin says: "I had to remind many many people involved in the project – because people will say, Oh, the mother of Norman Bates [in 'Psycho'] is awful – I had to say, Well, that’s told through the lens of a crazy guy."
Ehrin adds: "I wanted to kick the 'bad mother' across the football field. I wanted to defend the mother and to defend being a woman in this world." The Norma Bates of the A&E series had a severely abusive backstory. It's perhaps that trauma that fuels her intense desire to protect her son, Norman, from the world and from himself. Farmiga, who is also an executive producer of "Bates Motel," says "the story that we were going to tell was that it was a love story between a mother and son, and about that umbilical cord unraveling and eventually potentially severing."
To hear Farmiga and Ehrin discuss what went into their thinking behind Norma Bates, click the blue play button at the top of this page or use the Soundcloud player below. You can read the complete transcript of their interview with Chocano on New York Magazine's The Cut. Alert: There are some spoilers in this radio story if you haven't seen season 3.
"Bates Motel" airs on A&E. To get more stories like this, subscribe to The Frame podcast on iTunes.