Kerry Ehrin Q&A: ‘Bates Motel’ co-creator
A&E's "Bates Motel," based on Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 thriller "Psycho," is about the early years of a budding serial killer, but writer/executive producer Kerry Ehrin considers him "weirdly relatable." As she explained in our recent webcam chat, "One of the things I always loved about 'Psycho' is how incredibly endearing Norman Bates is in the film. He's adorable. He's the most likable, adorable serial killer ever created. I think that's part of the heartbreak of the story is that he doesn't know who he is, and he doesn't understand it enough to control it."
The series revolves around a teenage Norman (Freddie Highmore) and his complex relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga). While we know their story ends in horror, that's not necessarily how it started. Ehrin wanted to explore a side of this family we might not have expected: "I think the idea that was really appealing to me personally was the opportunity to tell a story about a dysfunctional family that wasn't entirely bleak … it's very chaotic and you don't know what's going to happen, and you get very, very bonded to people. I was very personally interested in telling a story about sort of the beautiful side of that."
But however much she and the audience may sympathize with Norman and Norma, and however much we may hope for a different outcome, Ehrin knows she's writing a tragedy. "When you watch a tragedy, you always want it to end differently. You want King Lear to get his shit together and not screw it up, and I think that's part of this too … When I write it, I'm certainly in some denial about where it's going, because it would break my heart to think about it."