Post Mortems
Bates Motel Recap

Bates Motel Bosses Talk 'Same-Sex' Twist, Confirm Rihanna Body Double

Holy Bates and switch!

The buzz surrounding this week’s Bates Motel was squarely focused on Rihanna’s much anticipated introduction as ill-fated Psycho icon Marion Crane, but it was a shocking revelation about Norman — or should we say “Norma”? — that will likely set tongues wagging. (We suspect Marion’s big episode comes next week.)

Midway through Monday’s installment, it was revealed that Norman has been for years not only frequenting a local dive bar as Norma, but having sex with its male patrons. It represented a major departure from the series’ Psycho source material, which (not surprisingly given the era) sidestepped Norman’s sexuality.

Below, exec producers Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse reveal why they went all-in on Norman/Norma’s complicated libido. The pair also open up about the “pressure” they faced to “minimize” Rihanna’s arc as Marion, and how that strain led them to employ a body double in at least one scene (did you catch it?!).

TVLINE | How did you arrive at the decision to reveal this aspect of Norman’s sexuality? 
KERRY EHRIN | We’ve always been driven by character. It really came from getting inside the head of Mother, who at the end of [last week’s episode] was basically broken up with by her son. Norman says, “This isn’t really working for me” in so many words. She’s devoted everything to this guy and she’s pissed. So she’s like, “F–k this. I’m going to go out and throw back a few.” And, you know, the guy [at the bar] was cute. She’s attracted to him, and they end up in a car… It came from a really human place. Clearly, Norman’s sexuality is all over the place. It’s not super defined. It made sense to us that this would’ve happened with him — many times, probably.

TVLINE | How long has he been having sex with other men?
CARLTON CUSE | We don’t define it. But we suggest that this is kind of what’s been happening in the couple of years that have passed since Norma has died.

TVLINE | Is the White Horse Bar a gay bar?
EHRIN | It was very intentionally built to have an edgy vibe but not a scary vibe. There’s a sense that everybody is pretty cool there and that anything goes and that people all kind of knew each other. There are probably all kinds of different things happening in that bar [Laughs]. It an open minded bar, let’s put it that way.

TVLINE | Switching gears to the episode’s other big event, the arrival of Marion Crane. I’m curious, did you instruct Rihanna to watch Psycho as preparation? 
EHRIN | We did not instruct her to.
CUSE | We talked to her before she signed on about how we were going to make the character different than Janet Leigh’s [portrayal]. And she embraced that. And that’s part of the reason she signed on.
EHRIN | She was clearly a fan of the film, though. I’m sure she had watched it before we even spoke to her.

TVLINE | Did you use a body double in the scene where she throws the suitcase of money in the trunk of her car and then drives off? We never saw her face…
CUSE | Yes. We were very ambitious. Imagine Rihanna stepping out of her concert tour to come and shoot two episodes of our show. A lot of people put a lot of pressure on Kerry and me to minimize her story. But we decided that if she was going to be on the show we wanted to give her a real part. But we were fighting with how much work we could get done with her. And she showed up and she worked like a dog for a week.
EHRIN | Thirty-three pages in five days.
CUSE | She was unbelievable and so committed. But there were certain shots and a couple of little pieces that we couldn’t physically schedule with her.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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37 Comments
  1. Cheyenne says:

    /jawfloor
    .
    It never occurred to me that Norman might be hitting gay bars dressed up as Norma, but damn, that was an intriguing plot twist. No way they could have shown that in 1960.

  2. Dick Whitman says:

    I knew something like that was gonna happen since the last time ‘Norma’ was at a bar a couple episodes ago flirting with the bartender! I missed Vera though I wish we could’ve seen her (more than we did) while Norman was remembering.

  3. Angela says:

    Yeah, I definitely did NOT see that bit towards the end coming. Wow. Norman’s fear and freakout and general ‘WTF?” reaction was so palpable, and the sudden burst of anger and almost…betrayal…he felt towards “Mother” was…yeow.
    .
    Rihanna’s got an interesting modern/old-fashioned mix to her portrayal of Marion that I kinda like. She’s not bad. I’m looking forward to when she first meets Norman-watching Rihanna and Freddie Highmore play off each other should be quite interesting :D.

  4. Cheyenne says:

    I almost wish Norman would kill Madeleine’s no-good husband. What a low-down POS.

    • Angela says:

      Maybe that’ll happen in this version of the story :p

    • kjbw75 says:

      I don’t know if you watch The Walking Dead, but the actor in the role of “Sam Loomis” on BM played the recently deceased “Spencer” on TWD. He just seems to have that right combination of snarky semi-good looks and a perfect sort of smarmy vibe that makes him excel at playing scumbags.

      • dude says:

        But he’s also really good at playing the good guy. He spent three years playing one of the best guys ever on One Tree Hill.

        • kjbw75 says:

          Oh that makes me laugh! Never did watch that show, but I have to say that if I was to see him playing any NON scumbag character, at this point, he would have to sell it like freakin’ Olivier or something, for me to be able to see past his inherent seediness (firmly established, at least in MY mind) in order to be able to buy him playing any sort of white hat role! I guess that is unfortunately, how typecasting manages to get its way…
          ..

    • Denise says:

      Got your wish!

    • Dick Whitman says:

      Cheeky

  5. restaurant says:

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  6. Ian says:

    “IS NORMAN GAY?”

    LOL.
    I’d actually like to see Freddie Highmore play a queer character, he’s got a fluid quality to me, but I wasn’t satisfied enough by the recap to be compelled to watch the episode. Norma/Norman killing Bradley turned me off the show. It just felt wrong to me on a basic level.

    • Hurley says:

      The show improved so much after that finale. The last two seasons have been its best ones.

      • Ann says:

        I agree. I almost stopped watching this show because Season 2 was so terrible. I’m glad I continued because this has been a very compelling series. I’m glad they had a plan and knew how and when to end it instead of dragging out the story for many years.

    • Jim says:

      I think anyone who took away from this that “Norman is bisexual” is missing the point of the nature of his mental issues. He’s subsumed into his mother so much that it even includes acting like her sexually. Just because he’s doing something with his body doesn’t mean he’s doing the same thing with his mind. But people want to label everything rather than deal in the vagaries of sexuality and “bisexual” gets more clicks than “world’s worst Oedipal complex,” so whatever.

      • A. Johnson says:

        Thank you! He’s ‘Norma’, not Norman when he’s in that bar.

      • jless says:

        Jim, thanks for your very smart comment! You got it and expressed way better than I could. Rihanna stunt casting is a bad spot on an otherwise excellent series. Fred Highmore is a very good actor, I hope he doesn’t get typecast playing weirdos like Anthony Perkins did, he does it so well!

    • freddie played queer in toaste. great british made for tv movie.

  7. Jared says:

    I really need to catch up with Bates Motel. This season seems really good so far.

  8. JMark (formerly JM) says:

    The so-called ‘twist’ made a lot of sense actually and didn’t surprise me. Great show, though. I will miss it when it’s over.

  9. Freddie Freaking Highmore is such a great actor. He stole my heart in Finding Neverland, and is one of those child actors who has learned his craft and become a damn good adult actor. I love this show, and hope to see more of Vera, Freddie, Nestor and Max in the future. Have you noticed that the last two episodes were directed by Nestor and Max? Also, they do an amazing job developing fully dimensional supporting characters like Chick, the new sheriff and Kevin Rahm’s character. Amazing show–I will miss it so much.

    • Angela says:

      Echoing your sentiments about Highmore. He’s incredible, and the fact that he hasn’t won an Emmy for this show is criminal. He’s done such amazing work in this role.
      .
      I echo your sentiments about wanting to see more of this cast in general in the future, too. I know some of them already have new shows lined up, so something to be on the lookout for, for sure. And I too love how the cast is so involved in the show. You can really feel the collaborative effort among the cast and crew here, which I think is a large part of why this show’s turned out as great as it has. These people really care about their craft in front of and behind the scenes, and it clearly shows.

    • kjbw75 says:

      Thought you might appreciate the mention that Episode 7, “Inseparable”, scheduled to air April 3, 2017 (and directed by Steph Green) features screenwriting credited to Freddie Highmore, who also wrote last season’s “Unfaithful”. And April 10, 2017’s Episode 8, “The Body” is directed by Freddie Highmore. These guys are all clearly multi-talented, and it is obvious as well that the showrunners have really fostered a very welcoming artistic environment and attitude on their set, absolutely. Its clear that this vibe brought the creative flow a-running, producing positive results without any compromise of integrity to the show’s vision, or in production value. Very nice to see that sort of artistic unselfishness working out well for everybody involved.

  10. Marylyn says:

    Please keep the show going! There must be millions of ideas for more and more episodes.

  11. Why not, everybody else in Hollywood is, according to ‘them,’

    “Not that there’s anything wrong with that….”

  12. May says:

    But really it has not much to do with Norman’s sexuality. If he dissociates he becomes Norma who is sexually attracted to men and thus he will be when he becomes her. But as himself he still sees himself attracted to women.
    But yes, I do love this modern twist, and I really loved the end of this episode. Can’t see I didn’t already sort of see it coming, though. Ever since the bar scene where Norma(n) has been flirting with the bartender.
    This season is so far the best one IMO, and I loved every season so far. I feel like this show has been underrated for a while. Wish it wasn’t so.

  13. Britta Unfitered says:

    Ehhhhhh. I wasn’t into it. It was kind of a lame way to go. I’ve always thought the show had established that Norman was sexually repressed because he was in love with his mother, which made him sexually obsessed with women who resemble his mother with their long blonde hair, their vibrance, and their 1950s dresses. (The movie is a whole other subject.) But his sexual obsession with these mommy lookalikes was so terrifying and horrifying to him that he disassociated and became violent. It wasn’t really about killing those women, it was more about killing the inappropriate sexual desires he felt for them. This whole show is built on the Oedipus Complex. Making Norman gay in the final season just seems like some super lame way to provide shock value or to make the show edgy I don’t buy it. It’s bad writing. Bad acting too. Rihanna was AWFUL. Just truly abysmal. Stick to your day job, Rihanna. Stick to what you’re talented at. And while we’re on the subject…if the show has established that Norman is obsessed with women who look like his mother, then Rihanna might not have been the best casting choice for his final female victim. I’m not sure why I still watch this show. I think I just want to finish it to say I finished it and can tip my hat to Hitchcock and say, “you did it better.” And one final thought on the episode…the line, “Oh, you want Janet’s job?” that Marion’s boss says to her was a bit on the nose, don’t you think? If they were going to reference Janet Leigh’s iconic Marion Crane performance, they could have done it in a more subtle way. Like I said, bad writing.

    • TD says:

      As other comments above suggest, I don’t think the show has “made Norman gay.” That’s too simplistic. That is “Mother/Norma” who is having sex with those men in the bar, not Norman. The same sexual issues you describe here for Norman still pertain, as well as the other layer of his Mother persona.