Emmy Spotlight: Emmy Should Check Into ‘Bates Motel’

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Bates Motel heads into its season finale tonight. Will Emmy ever recognize this great series?

The Television Academy has only awarded A&Es superb Bates Motel one Emmy nomination in its 4-season history.

Let’s let that sink in.

One nomination. In four years.

Granted, it was the right nomination – Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Vera Farmiga – but it simply isn’t enough now that the show has matured not only in its storytelling but also in its deepening of its characters and associated performances with each passing year. Bates Motel is not only a thrilling suspense drama worthy of comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock’s great original, but it’s also a touching ode to the complexities of parenting. More specifically, to motherhood.

Bates Motel

Farmiga’s Norma Bates isn’t a particularly good mother. She’s well intended but near-sighted where her son, Norman (Freddie Highmore), is concerned. Emmy should not be so similarly near-sighted in their reaction to the series. Bates Motel is a complex drama that astutely documents a complex relationship far better than any previous attempts have been able to do.

Bates Motel isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. To fully appreciate it, you have to stick with it for the long haul. It builds on itself, layering psychosis after psychosis until it nearly cracks from the suspense – much like Highmore’s Norman. It’s a great symphony of pain, suffering, and trauma. The iconic movements in season four wouldn’t resonate without the mistakes planted in earlier seasons, sewn into the ground like so many rotten seeds.

And perhaps that’s ultimately why the Television Academy struggles to reward the show. Those who may have missed out on earlier seasons may feel left out of the overall arc, although that’s hardly an excuse. Even passing knowledge of the series mythology would help you appreciate the brilliance of the fourth season. Even if you know nothing of Mother and Norman Bates, the casual viewer cannot ignore the towering performances of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore. I’ve written about Farmiga before, and everything I said then sticks today. She’s flat-out astounding in the role – the greatest role of her fascinating career. Even though she deserves very serious Emmy consideration this year, I’m worried that, as the Television Academy failed to nominate her for last year’s “Norma Louise,” she’ll likely be left out again this year. You can forget about Mother not being happy. I’m pissed as hell.

But as great as Farmiga is this year, Freddie Highmore may have been slightly better with a trickier arc this season. He’s played the two halves of Norman Bates for a few years now, but this is the year in which the two halves seem to finally merge into one. I don’t know how he does it, but Highmore’s eyes seem to have completely died overnight. They’re the blackest eyes… the Devil’s eyes. And season four Norman Bates is thBates Motele Devil indeed. Highmore brilliantly captures the internal struggle of the committed Norman, the terrified Norman, the murderous Norman, the Mother-infused and flirtatious Norman, and the resolute Norman that burns your soul with hatred from the inside out.

Aside from completely blackening his eyes, Highmore has shredded the plucky younger version of himself on display in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland. This is a man, a very dangerous man, and this is Freddie Highmore’s moment in the moonlight.

And don’t forget he also wrote an episode of the series (“Unfaithful”). This kid is talented.

These actors are talented.

This show is great.

Emmy, don’t make Mother mad again. We can forgive your past transgressions.

We all go a little mad sometimes…

Guaranteed Nominations

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Probable Nominations

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Possible Nominations
Vera Farmiga, Lead Actress
Freddie Highmore, Lead Actor
Writing

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4 comments

  1. Avatar
    Lifeisgood20131234 6 years ago

    I completely agree. This show is so incredible and criminally underrated.

    1. Avatar
      Clarence Moye 6 years ago

      Let’s spread the word then! Retweet and share!

  2. Avatar
    rosely 6 years ago

    I agree. This show is vastly underrated. The entire show is simply wonderful, from the writing to the actors. I’ve been watching since it premiered four years ago and it’s only gotten better.

    1. Avatar
      Clarence Moye 6 years ago

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to see it. I was starting to wonder… It really is a vastly different, more mature, more focused show than it was in Season One and Two. I hope Emmy voters give it its just due this year. I really do.

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