Bates Motel (TV series)

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Bates Motel
Based on Characters from Psycho 
by Robert Bloch
Developed by
Composer(s) Chris Bacon
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 30 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Mark Wolper
  • Roy Lee
  • John Middleton, Jr.
  • Kerry Ehrin
  • Carlton Cuse
  • Justis Greene
  • Vera Farmiga
Editor(s) Christopher Nelson
Location(s) British Columbia, Canada
Running time 40–47 minutes
Production company(s)
Original channel A&E
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format 5.1 Surround Sound
Original release March 18, 2013 (2013-03-18) – present
External links

Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, and produced by Universal Television for the cable network A&E.[1] The series, being a "contemporary prequel" to Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 film Psycho (based on Robert Bloch's novel of the same name), depicts the lives of Norman Bates and his mother Norma prior to the events portrayed in the film, albeit in a different fictional town (White Pine Bay, Oregon, as opposed to the film's Fairvale, California) and in a modern setting.[2][3]

The series begins after the death of Norma's husband, when she purchases a motel located in a coastal Oregon town so she and Norman can start a new life.[1][4][5] The series is filmed outside of Vancouver in Aldergrove, British Columbia, along with other locations within the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. It premiered on March 18, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.[6][7][8] The series' stars – Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore – have received particular praise for their performances in the series.

A&E chose to skip a pilot of the series, opting to go straight-to-series by ordering a 10-episode first season.[1] On April 8, 2013, A&E renewed Bates Motel for a second season, which aired from March 3 to May 5, 2014.[9] On April 7, 2014, Bates Motel was renewed for a 10-episode third season, which aired from March 9 to May 11, 2015.[10] On June 15, 2015, the series was renewed for a fourth and fifth season, to air in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The renewal of Bates Motel for a fifth season marks the series as A&E's longest-running original scripted drama series in the channel's history.[11]


Season 1[edit]

The first season follows Norman and Norma Bates when they buy a motel shortly after Norman's father dies. On one of the first nights of the two owning the motel, things end badly when the former owner breaks in and rapes Norma. A returning Norman knocks the attacker out and Norma then stabs him to death, and they decide to hide the body in a lake. When the town sheriff and his deputy notice that a man has gone missing, Norma and Norman must keep them from digging too far.

Season 2[edit]

The second season follows the aftermath of Norman Bates and the mystery of his teacher Miss Watson's murder as her mysterious past comes to light. Meanwhile, Norma finds herself making tough and dangerous decisions in order to keep the motel running and preventing the impending bypass. Bradley's search for her father's killer leads to the extremes, and Dylan learns the disturbing truth about his true parentage.

Season 3[edit]

The third season focuses on Norman's waning ability to stay in denial about what's happening to him, and the lengths he will go to gain control of his fragile psyche. The dramatic events of last season leave Norma more aware of her son's mental fragility and fearful of what he is capable of.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Main and supporting cast of Bates Motel (season 1 & 2), from left to right; upper row: Highmore (Norman Bates), Farmiga (Norma Bates), Thieriot (Dylan Massett), Cooke (Emma Decody), Peltz (Bradley Martin), Carbonell (Alex Romero), Vogel (Zack Shelby); lower row: Eklund (Zane Morgan), O'Neill (Nick Ford), Robertson (Jodi Wilson), Kwiatkowski (Cody Brennan), Vartan (George Heldens), Creskoff (Christine Heldens) and Johnson (Caleb Calhoun).

Series co-protagonist, alongside her son. Norma is depicted as caring and generally kind, particularly towards Norman, but intensely paranoid and jealous, making a concerted effort to keep Norman to herself and hating any girlfriends he has, real or imagined. Having encountered so much abuse in her life, she has long fostered the belief that it is she and Norman against the world. This is exacerbated by the fact that many of her supposed allies and friends turn on her over the course of the series, largely to do with her paranoid and aggressive behavior towards them, her need to get her own way and the scathing comments she makes in times of distress. Nevertheless, Norma's protective and maternal instincts are often directed at others besides Norman, such as Emma, Dylan and Sheriff Romero.

Series co-protagonist, alongside his mother. Norman is depicted as a troubled, mentally unhinged but generally friendly teenager. Having been smothered by his mother for most of his life, he has had a sheltered upbringing and is often naive to the dangers of the world. His interactions with other people are generally awkward, particularly around people his own age. His relationship with Norma is unhealthy, and soon becomes strained when he starts to interact with the local youth and when he begins forming relationships with girls. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that Norman has a traumatic mental illness – commonly, he experiences blackouts, during which he hallucinates visions of Norma and behaves violently, before coming to with no recollection of his actions.

Norma's estranged son, and Norman's criminal half-brother. Having grown up largely on his own, he is resourceful, strong-willed and independent, and genuinely caring of Norman, but has a difficult relationship with Norma. He believes that Norma seeks out conflict and drama, and that her treatment of Norman will damage him. When he arrives to White Pine Bay, after recently being laid off, Dylan's rudeness to Norma causes him to fight with Norman, but he begins to offer him brotherly advice, and encourages him to interact with others. He gets involved in the town's illicit marijuana business, and quickly rises up the ranks as he wins favor with his superiors. His world comes crashing down, however, when he learns from Norma that he is the product of an incestuous rape – his true father having been Norma's brother, Caleb – and distances himself from the family, moving out of the Bates' house. He eventually reconnects with his mother and brother in the second season finale. In season 3, he becomes increasingly concerned with Norman's behavior, and tries to convince Norma to seek help for him. He also facilitates a reconciliation between Norma and Caleb after reconnecting with his father and starting a legal medicinal marijuana farm of his own, following a DEA raid which wipes out the town's cannabis business. Throughout the season, he starts to grow close to Emma as she assists in looking after Norman, and attempts to raise the funds for her lung transplant.

Norman's best friend. A sufferer of cystic fibrosis, Emma is often seen carrying an oxygen tank. Although Emma is British, having originated from Manchester (as is Cooke, in real life), she speaks with a local American dialect – it is never revealed whether she merely lost her original accent or has deliberately developed a new one to avoid drawing attention to herself. Identifying with his unusual personality, troubled history and friendly nature, Emma is immediately infatuated with Norman and develops a friendship with him. Norman in turn finds himself warming to her, and, at the request of her father, respects her feelings for him. Seeing this, Norma becomes fond of her and employs Emma at the motel to keep her close to Norman, as well as to provide her with some much-needed maternal support and advice. Her friendship with Norman becomes strained, however, when he allows his feelings for Bradley Martin to get in the way, and when she sees signs that he might have feelings for her after all, such as his protectiveness of her. In addition, she becomes upset when Norma begins to blatantly keep secrets from her or tell her false stories to explain some of Norman's strange actions, and contemplates resigning from the motel. Norman ultimately reaffirms his loyalty to her when he angrily berates his girlfriend, Cody, for egging Emma to do a cliff jump into a lake, clogging her airway and nearly killing her. He later convinces her to stay at the motel by telling her the truth about Dylan's birth, explaining why Norma would not answer her questions. In season 3, Emma has a short-lived relationship with Norman, but they later decide to remain friends. She soon grows close to Dylan, who becomes concerned when he learns that Emma's health has deteriorated severely, and takes it upon himself to raise the money she needs for a lung transplant.

  • Nicola Peltz as Bradley Martin (Season 1–2; Season 3, recurring)

A kind, attractive and popular classmate, Bradley immediately takes a shine to Norman, inviting him to his first party and introducing him to her boyfriend. Her world takes a turn for the worse, however, when her father is burned to death, and in her time of grief, she ends up having sex with Norman. Regretting it, she attempts to make amends with him, but accidentally alienates him further. She also wins the ire of Norma and Emma, who become jealous of the attention Norman gives her. With Dylan's help, she finds out who her father's murderer was, and ends up shooting him dead. With blood on her hands, Bradley turns to Norman once more, and, with his help, flees White Pine Bay to go into hiding in Boston. She later returns in season 3 and, lonely, seeks comfort in Norman. She asks him to speak to her mother, who thinks she's dead, but changes her mind upon learning that her mother has quickly adjusted to being without a husband and daughter. Now, the only person she has left in the world is Norman. She decides that is best for her to leave town once again and pleads for Norman to come with her. He accepts, however, she unwittingly becomes his victim.

  • Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Alex Romero (Season 2–present; Season 1, recurring)

The town sheriff, Romero finds himself in a very awkward position. He tolerates the town's open marijuana cultivation, but only because he knows that the town's economy depends on it, and comes down hard on any gang-related murders. He maintains a stoic, hardened demeanor, both on and off the job. His interaction with the Bates' does not go smoothly, when he suspects Norma's complicity in the disappearance (and death) of Keith Summers, his friend and the former motel owner. Over time, he comes to warm to Norma, but often finds himself having to clean up her mess, including murdering a man threatening her, or pinning the blame for one of Norman's murders on somebody else. When a call girl staying at the motel gets shot and, upon dying, gives Norma a USB drive that contains a financial ledger splitting up an investment return of at least $15 million (illegal revenue from the drug trade), Romero must protect Norma, while investigating those listed on it, including his imprisoned father who used to be sheriff. When it is revealed that Norma lied to him about her husband's death, their friendship suffers and is nearly at an end. Romero must also fight those seeking the ledger in order to keep his job and save his own life.

  • Kenny Johnson as Caleb Calhoun (Season 3–present; Season 2, recurring)

Norma's estranged older brother, Norman's uncle and Dylan's biological father. In season two, Caleb arrives at the Bates Motel but Norma immediately throws him out. However, Caleb bonds with Dylan, saying he helped protect Norma from their abusive father when they were children. Dylan defends Caleb to Norma, but she claims he repeatedly raped her for years during their childhood. This then escalates into a fight between Norman and Dylan until Norma intervenes by revealing that Caleb is Dylan's father. After Norman in Norma's persona attacks him for the rape, Caleb leaves town. He returns to help Dylan with a "pot farm" by building a barn. Dylan grows closer to Caleb and ponders telling Norma about his return, which is hastened by Norman and Emma spotting Caleb at the remote cabin. Norma and Caleb have an emotional reunion in which he apologizes to her. After a curious neighbor to the farm seeks a gun runner to Canada, Caleb offers to take the job; however, Dylan also needs the money to help Emma so he accompanies him. The dropoff is supposed to have been the neighbor's demise, and Caleb manages to save Dylan. He then returns to beat the neighbor until he promises to leave Dylan alone and give them the promised money. Caleb leaves again, but not before telling Norma about Norman attacking him in her persona.

Recurring cast[edit]


Season Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 10 March 18, 2013 (2013-03-18) May 20, 2013 (2013-05-20) September 17, 2013 (2013-09-17)[12] February 3, 2014 (2014-02-03)[13] November 27, 2014 (2014-11-27)[14]
2 10 March 3, 2014 (2014-03-03) May 5, 2014 (2014-05-05) October 7, 2014 (2014-10-07)[15] October 13, 2014 (2014-10-13)[16] TBA
3 10 March 9, 2015 (2015-03-09) May 11, 2015 (2015-05-11) October 13, 2015 (2015-10-13)[17] October 12, 2015 (2015-10-12)[18] TBA



On January 12, 2012, it was reported that A&E were developing a television series titled Bates Motel that would serve as a prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.[19] The first script was written by Anthony Cipriano.[20] In March 2012, Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin joined the project as executive producers and head writers.[21] Cuse has cited the drama series Twin Peaks as a key inspiration for Bates Motel, stating: "We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks... If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes. I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry [Ehrin] and I thought we'd do the 70 that are missing."[22] On July 2, 2012, A&E gave Bates Motel a straight-to-series order.[23]


On August 27, 2012, Vera Farmiga was the first to be cast in the leading role of Norma Louise Bates.[24] On September 14, 2012, Freddie Highmore was cast as Norman Bates.[25] That same day, Max Thieriot was cast as Norman's half-brother, Dylan Massett.[26] Shortly after, on September 19, 2012, Nicola Peltz was cast as Bradley Martin, a possible love interest for Norman.[27] Finally, on September 20, 2012, Olivia Cooke was the final main cast member to join the series, in the role of Emma Decody, Norman's best friend.[28] Nestor Carbonell was cast in a recurring role as Sheriff Alex Romero in the first season, but was upgraded to the main cast at the beginning of the second season.[29] In July 2014, Kenny Johnson, who recurred as Norma's brother Caleb Calhoun in the second season, was promoted to a series regular for the third season.[30]


A replica of the original Bates Motel set from the film Psycho was built on location in Aldergrove, British Columbia on 272nd Street, where the series is filmed.[31][32] The original house and motel is located in Universal Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles. Additional filming for the series has taken place in multiple areas in British Columbia, including Steveston, Coquitlam, Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver and Fort Langley.[33]


Critical response[edit]

The first season of Bates Motel received a score of 66 on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[34] Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 81% of 37 critics gave the first season a positive review. The site's consensus reads: "Bates Motel utilizes mind manipulation and suspenseful fear tactics, on top of consistently sharp character work and wonderfully uncomfortable familial relationships."[35] Vera Farmiga was nominated for the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series,[36] and won the Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television for her work on this season.[37]

The second season of Bates Motel received a score of 67 out of 100 on Metacritic, from 11 reviews.[38] Rotten Tomatoes reported an 86% rating from 12 reviews for the second season. The site's consensus reads: "Bates Motel reinvents a classic thriller with believable performances and distinguished writing."[39] Farmiga and Highmore were nominated for Satellite Awards[40] and Critics' Choice Television Awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively, for their work on this season.[41]

The third season of Bates Motel received a score of 72 out of 100 from Metacritic, based on 5 reviews.[42] Rotten Tomatoes reported that 92% of 12 critical responses were positive. The site's consensus reads: "Bates Motel further blurs lines around TV's creepiest taboo mother/son relationship, uncomfortably darkening its already fascinating tone."[43]


On its premiere night, the series broke rating records for an original drama series on A&E. It drew in a strong 3.04 million viewers, with a 1.6 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic.[44] The first season finale drew in a total of 2.70 million viewers, with a 1.2 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic.[45] Overall, the first season averaged 2.70 million viewers, with 1.5 million in both the 18–49 and 25–54 demographics.[46] The second season premiere drew in a total of 3.07 million viewers, with 1.3 million watching in the coveted 18–49 demographic,[47] and the season finale episode drew in 2.30 million viewers, with 0.9 million tuning in from the 18–49 demo.[48] Overall, the second season averaged 2.30 million viewers, with a 0.9 ratings share in the 18–49 demographic.[49] The third season premiere episode drew in a total of 2.14 million viewers, with 0.9 million watching in the 18–49 demo,[50] and the finale drew in 1.67 million viewers, with 0.6 tuning in from the 18–49 demographic.[51] Overall, the third season averaged 1.80 million viewers, with a 0.7 ratings share in the 18–49 demo.[52]

Season Time slot (ET) # Ep. Premiered Ended Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere viewers
(in millions)
Date Finale viewers
(in millions)
1 Monday 10 p.m. 10
March 18, 2013
May 20, 2013
2.70 2.70
2 Monday 9 p.m. 10
March 3, 2014
May 5, 2014
2.30 2.30
3 10
March 9, 2015
May 11, 2015
1.67 1.80

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2013 3rd Critics' Choice Television Awards[53] Best Actress in a Drama Series Vera Farmiga Nominated
65th Primetime Emmy Awards[54] Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards[55] Individual Achievement in Drama Nominated
Dorian Awards[56] TV Performance of the Year – Actress Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards[57] Best Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Best Cinematography in a Series John S. Bartley, Thomas Yatsko Nominated
Best Production Design in a Series Peter Bodnarus, Mark S. Freeborn, Margot Ready, Rose Marie McSherry Nominated
Artios Awards[58] Outstanding Achievement in Casting April Webster, Sara Isaacson, Jennifer Page, Corinne Clark (for "First You Dream, Then You Die") Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards[59] Best Drama Series Bates Motel Nominated
Best Actress – Drama Series Vera Farmiga Nominated
40th Saturn Awards[60] Best Actress on Television Won
Best Television Presentation Bates Motel Nominated
Best Actor on Television Freddie Highmore Nominated
Imagen Awards[61][62] Best Supporting Actor – Television Nestor Carbonell Nominated
2014 Nominated
Makeup Artists & Hairstylists Guild Awards[63] Best Contemporary Hairstyling – Television and New Media Series Donna Bis Nominated
4th Critics' Choice Television Awards[64] Best Actor in a Drama Series Freddie Highmore Nominated
Best Actress in a Drama Series Vera Farmiga Nominated
Online Film & Television Association Awards[65] Best Actress in a Drama Series Nominated
Best Drama Series Bates Motel Nominated
Best Music in a Series Chris Bacon Nominated
Best Production Design in a Series Peter Bodnarus, Mark S. Freeborn, Tony Wohlgemuth, Margot Ready, Rose Marie McSherry Nominated
Best Sound in a Series Alan Decker, Mark Noda, Nello Torri, Thomas DeGorter, Michael Mullane, Brian Armstrong Nominated
TV Guide Awards Favorite Horror Series Bates Motel Nominated
40th People's Choice Awards[66] Favorite TV Anti-Hero Freddie Highmore Nominated
18th Satellite Awards[67] Best Actor – Television Series Drama Nominated
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Vera Farmiga Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards[68] Best Actress – Drama Series Nominated
Best Drama Series Produced by a Woman Kerry Ehrin Nominated
Best Drama Series Bates Motel Nominated
IGN Awards[69] Best New TV Series Nominated
Best TV Horror Series Nominated
Best TV Actress Vera Farmiga Nominated
41st Saturn Awards[70] Best Actress on Television Nominated
Best Limited Run Television Series Bates Motel Nominated
2015 41st People's Choice Awards[71] Favorite Cable TV Drama Nominated
5th Critics' Choice Television Awards[72][73] Best Actress in a Drama Series Vera Farmiga Nominated
Best Actor in a Drama Series Freddie Highmore Nominated

DVD release[edit]

Season Episodes Release date Special features Notes
1 10 September 17, 2013 Paley Center Panel Discussion with the Cast and Creative Team; Deleted Scenes Includes a set of several collector cards that show drawings from Jaio's notebook
2 10 October 7, 2014 Bates Motel: After Hours – Season 2 Premiere; Bates Motel: After Hours – Season 2 Finale; Origins of a Psycho: Inside Bates Motel; Deleted Scenes N/A
3 10 October 13, 2015 A Broken Psyche: Creating Norma-n; Deleted Scenes N/A


In Australia, the series premiered on Fox8 on May 26, 2013.[74] In Ireland and the United Kingdom, it premiered on Universal Channel on April 2, 2014.[75] In Jamaica, it premiered on CVM TV on August 11, 2014. In the Middle East, it premiered on OSN First HD in mid-2014.[76] The second season premiered on January 5, 2015.[77] In the Philippines, it started on Jack TV on August 12, 2013. In South Africa, the series premiered on MNet on June 21, 2013.[78]


NBCUniversal has partnered with Hot Topic, an American retailer of pop culture merchandise, to introduce a collection of clothing and accessories inspired by Bates Motel. The merchandise, including items such as bathrobes and bloody shower curtains, became available at Hot Topic's website and select stores on March 18, 2014.[79]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Danzis, Alan (March 18, 2013). "'Bates Motel': An Intriguing Contemporary Prequel To 'Psycho'". Star Pulse. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (March 17, 2013). "Mother, as She Lives and Breathes". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Garvin, Glenn (March 17, 2013). "Tension builds in The Lake, but dies at the Bates Motel". The Miami Herald. 
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