Bates Motel and the Horror Genre on Television

Thanks to The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, the horror genre is in the midst of its biggest television presence since Tales from the Crypt camped up the airwaves of the 1990s. Now A&E is trying to get in on the ground floor by taking a beloved character of the genre and enlisting network hit makers to create a modern day prequel series.

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Bates Motel stars Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates, a mama’s boy with a dark side. The story focuses on teenage Norman and his mother (played by Vera Farmiga) making a fresh start with a new motel in White Pine Bay. The townspeople don’t trust the Bates and have many of their own secrets to protect.

Former Lost producer Carlton Cuse and former Friday Night Lights writer Kerry Ehrin are the executive producers behind Bates Motel. Being a die hard Lost fan and a newfound Friday Night Lights fan, this pairing has me very optimistic. The plot outline sounds like there will be an emphasis on White Pine Bay and its citizens. Considering both Lost and Friday Night Lights had strong community themes, I’m confident in the showrunners’ ability to sustain the show as a series.

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A&E isn’t the only network to reappropriate a horror icon for the small screen. This spring, NBC will premiere Hannibal, a prequel series about everyone’s favorite cannibalistic psychopath. With Netflix premiering Eli Roth’s werewolf series Hemlock Grove in the spring, the horror genre has a lot going for it in television today. But will it continue to thrive?

The Walking Dead and American Horror Storyare the kingpins of horror TV today. But they’re not without their blemishes. Is it possible that the extended void of horror that TV has experienced has left audiences clamoring for anything? Or are the current crop of horror shows justified in their acclaim?

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The Walking Dead has had a troublesome journey toward the high quality television we are seeing in its third season. The show that stretched searching for a lost child with no character development into a 7 episode ordeal amidst a showrunner shakeup behind the scenes just lost the man responsible for the show’s heightened quality. Where the walkers go from here is anyone’s guess. But I’m a zombie fan through and through and will only consider giving it up if Greg Nicotero quits.

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American Horror Story is a very different case. I watched the first season and wanted to love it, but I just couldn’t. In particular, the hokie and bizarre actions of frightened students in a school shooting scene made me laugh out loud. And opening the second episode of the series by using music from Psycho only made me dislike the show more. You can call it an homage all you want but I say the “highly original horror series” just wanted to piggyback off of Psycho‘s creepy atmosphere.

All in all, though, I have high hopes that the TV horror offerings of 2013 will satisfy my higher than normal horror TV standards. What TV horror offering are you most excited for? Sound off in the comments section and don’t forget to follow the blog around the internet.

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