Bates Motel, A&E’s series prequel to Psycho (the brainchild of Lost’s Carlton Cuse and Friday Night Lights’ Kerry Ehrin) follows the uncomfortably close relationship between Norman and his mother Norma during his teenage years. The trailer looks pretty slick. And here’s how you know it won’t be sticking too closely to the Hitchcock film: Series star Vera Farmiga says Norma’s really not so bad. “I got into this wanting to defend who that woman was,” the actress told reporters Friday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “To me, she was such a beautiful portrait of valiant maternity, and therein was the challenge. To me, the story is a beautiful love letter between a mother and her son.”
The hour-long thriller, which is set in contemporary times, picks up just as the Bates relocate to a sleepy coastal town in Northern California and begin refurbishing the motel recently purchased by Norma. Cuse also spoke of the show in non-horror terms — though the pilot is in fact creepy — describing Norman’s tale as a tragedy first. “How does he become the guy in that movie?” (In the series, Norman is played by Freddie Highmore.) “In Titanic, you root for Kate and Leo to survive, even if you know they aren’t going to. That’s kind of what we’re going for.” So don’t expect Marion Crane to be checking in; Cuse said the film served only as their inspiration. “We do not want do an homage to Psycho,” Cuse said. “We don’t really view any of that as canon.” Bates Motel premieres March 18.