Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bates Motel thoughts

I've been watching Bates Motel on A&E since it started last year and I really love the acting in it. Freddie Highmore is amazing as a younger, high-school aged, Norman Bates and his mother, alive thankfully, played by Vera Farmiga is stunning. The two together are greater than the sum of their parts and seriously are the two best performances I've ever seen. They're seriously perfect together. Freddie Highmore seems to be channeling the original character, Norman Bates and has the walk, mannerisms, everything so spot on it's creepy.

What has me really thinking this season isn't just their amazing performances or their story line (I'm not a super fan of the drug business in the town story line but hey, every show has a B-line and it's never as strong or it'd be the primary story, right?) But it's something A&E has done that I've never seen before.

One of the criticisms I got in my book Jump/Drive was that I had high school aged kids dealing with sex when they weren't adults. I'm not kidding. They talked about it and talked to an adult about it and I got e-mails saying that wasn't appropriate or okay in a YA (Young Adult) book because there are two kinds of people: Adults who are sexual and children who are children all 17 years and 364 days of their childhood and are NOT sexual animals and must not EVER be looked at that way, thought about as thinking about it, or anything else. TV has mostly played along that line really.

Season 2, Episode 9 of Bate's Motel we hear something very different. Norman has a crush on one of his teachers who has mysteriously turned up dead after he was at her house. He doesn't know what happened. He blacked out. It keeps happening that people get hurt when he's blacked out. But that's not the important part. They didn't show him having sex with her. They showed him at the house. In S2E9 the sheriff says something along the lines of "Some of the semen in [dead teacher] was Norman's." My mind was blown.

What Bate's Motel and A&E did was just talk about a minor not only having sex with an adult but leaving "semen" and that's the word they used and I was like, "What the hell?" behind. That's not something a child would do but he IS a child. The hard sharp line between adulthood and childhood that TV seems so fond of is so very broken here. They did a throwaway line about arresting her for sex with a minor if she weren't already dead or something like that to cover their butts and make sure we the audience knew they didn't condone that sort of behavior. But the part where they discussed it at all, and in that kind of detail was very different from what I've seen before. There were bodily fluids discussed between two different generations of people and one of them is/was still a child. (Yes, I'm intentionally using that word to be provocative because that's the way things are done on TV with this subject a lot of the time. But not this time.)

So, if you've never seen this show find it on DVD, watch it on Netflix, whatever it takes, but watch it. It's some of the best TV out there and you won't regret it.
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