Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on A&E’s new original scripted drama series Bates Motel, most questions had to do with how the series, from executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, would or would not pay homage to the movie Psycho. For the record, the producers say it won’t but various Psycho incarnations are used as inspiration to create an original story.
“We don’t really view any of that as canon,” Cuse said. He called a desire to avoid “homage” a reason why the story has a contemporary setting, rather than being set in the ’60s. He added that the story of how young Bates becomes a murderous adult “will not be what you expect it to be.” (He did confirm that the story would be serialized but “have a beginning, middle and end” and will not focus on a single individual mystery or story point.) Although Cuse rejects the idea of “homage,” he said that show producers used the original plans for the movie Bates Motel that stands on the Universal Studios lot to recreate the motel on location in Vancouver.
But not surprisingly, a question arose about whether post-Newtown is a bad time to introduce an entertainment series about a disturbed young man with a troubled relationship with his mother who eventually turns violent. Said Ehrin: “I think the only thing anyone thought about that was that it was horrible and sad. This show is not about violence, it’s about a mother and son.” She said that the story is trying to “explain” violence rather than promote it.
Ehrin reacted in a similar way to earlier questions about whether the show and its advertising exploit violence against women. She said the show explores an “obviously Oedipal, dark landscape” but the series depicts violence against women as something that is “horrible and it shouldn’t happen.”
Cuse said that the series was not inspired by FX’s American Horror Story. “No polar bears, no Smoke Monsters, that’s for sure,” he joked. He said Bates Motel would not introduce a supernatural element. “It’s a psychological thriller,” he said. “I don’t think it [American Horror Story] had an influence. It was its own thing.”