Monday , 6 February 2023

Rihanna checks into Bates Motel

It can creep up inside you and consume you….its too close for comfort.

One of the greatest pop stars in the world is taking some time off from the Billboard charts and checking herself into one of television’s most disturbing shows, A&E’s Psycho prequel, Bates Motel. The Barbadocious songstress, Rihanna, admired as much for her unique style as she is for her wide-ranging musical talents, is taking on the ill-fated role of Marion Crane, portrayed in the original 1960 Alfred Hitchcock shocker by Janet Leigh (Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom). In that film, Leigh’s character met a surprising end in one of the most notorious scenes in all of film history at the hands of one Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, in that infamous shower scene. The TV series, Bates Motel, has, up until now, explored the events that led up to Psycho, that of a young Norman Bates and his mother, Norma, as they attempt to start a new life as proprietors of a motel set off the beaten track in a sleepy Oregon town. The show is about to enter its fifth and final season, and by casting Rihanna as Marion Crane, is getting to that part of the Norman Bates story everyone knows which make up the events of its predecessor. No doubt, the producers have some unexpected twists and turns in store for long-time fans of the series, as well as that of the original film. It promises to be one wet and wild ride.

Executive producers Kerry Ehrin (The Wonder Years, NBC’s Friday Night Lights) and  Carlton Cuse (Lost and current The Strain and Colony) have let it be known that just because you know what happened in Psycho, that doesn’t mean the same fates await those same characters in Bates Motel. In explaining to Entertainment Weekly, Ehrin says:

We’re taking threads of that story and definitely using them so it’s recognizable, it’s just where we go with it is very different. It was trying to do a story about a contemporary woman with some edge, with some expectations, who isn’t perfect, who isn’t always perfectly sweet, who is in that situation, but we’re rooting for her to get what she wants.

As seen in the above photo, certainly the setting where Marion comes upon the Bates Motel is similar to that of the movie, a dreary, rain-soaked evening. Though, of all people, you’d think that Rihanna would at least be carrying an umbrella with her.

{Spoilers ahead for those not caught up through the fourth and previous season of Bates Motel.}
It was at the end of last season where we finally bid a sad farewell to the poor, sweet, yet beyond motherly, Norma Bates. As portrayed by the fantastic Vera Farmiga, in what should have been a multiple Emmy-winning role (she was only nominated once, for the show’s first season), Norma is depicted as a long-suffering woman trying to piece her life back together with her two sons, the estranged Dylan (the also excellent, Max Thieriot) and disturbed Norman (creepy Freddie Highmore). At once incredibly strong and determined, while also deeply fragile and vulnerable, Norma has formed an overly protective and unhealthy bond with her son. While no doubt coming from a place of love, her possessiveness has also contributed to his eventual murderous ways, and ultimately, her own demise. It was during last season that we finally saw Norman’s dissociative identity disorder begin to manifest itself.

While casting someone as famous as Rihanna, and known more for her music than her acting, surprised many, even criticized by some as stunt casting for ratings, it’s actually a brilliant move. Rihanna is known for being a strong woman who’s totally in charge of her career. While we don’t yet know if Rihanna’s Marion will face the same outcome as her previous counterpart, she’ll undoubtedly prove to be a worthy adversary to Norman Bates as he becomes totally unhinged. It will be interesting to see how much of Marion Crane’s backstory we’ll get leading up to her arrival at the motel. And might the producers be so bold as to have Rihanna’s Marion turn the tables on Norman and come out the victor? Rihanna wouldn’t be the first mega-music star to join an established horror series. Lady Gaga has recently become a worthy addition to Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story on F/X. And Rihanna has previously showed her acting chops in the unduly maligned Battleship, as a Navy weapons specialist, playing herself in the apocalyptic comedy, This Is the End, and voicing a teenager in the animated Home. And if you have any doubts about her range of emotions or personas, one needs to only check out her performance in the creepy video for her sonic masterpiece, “Disturbia”:

Rihanna will certainly be a welcome addition to the final season of Bates Motel. While Norma may no longer be with us in spirit, she remains in bodily form, so we’ll thankfully still be seeing more of Farmiga. Also worth mentioning are Nestor Carbonell as Sheriff Alex Romero, another adversary to Norman, and Olivia Cooke as Norman’s sometimes love interest, Emma. One of the aspects of Bates Motel that has set it apart from so many other shows is the way it handles the relationships between the various characters. There are numerous moving scenes, between brothers Norman and Dylan, between Norma and Emma, Norma and Alex, and so on. It really makes you care about these characters, and will certainly make you mourn those who don’t survive. Add in some incest, mental illness and murder, and you have one hell of a compelling series. So, put your shower caps on and get ready for the final exploits of Norman Bates as the concluding season of Bates Motel begins Monday, February 20th on A&E.

One comment

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