I'm talking about Norma Bates from the TV show Bates Motel, of course, not the Mother from the original source movie Psycho.
We all know that basics of Psycho, right?
I won't spoil it just in case, but suffice it to say, it would be easy to use that foundation to build a story about the worst mother ever and how she ruins Norman, her unassuming, adorkable son.
For starters there's the recurring question of whether Norman’s genetic mental problems are severe enough to render his upbringing irrelevant. He's a very sweet, good-hearted person, but he has a predisposition toward instability that would put the best of parents at a loss.
Of course, Norma is far from best of parents. She’s clingy, possessive, manipulative and self-absorbed, and oh yes, there are duly uncomfortable incestuous undertones to their relationship that slowly grow and become less undertone-y as the seasons progress and the insanity of both characters blossoms.
Yet through all that, she's a pitiable, almost lovable character. She has severe emotional issues of her own, some genetic that have clearly been passed to Norman, some environmental. She’s got her good days and her bad days, and swings believably from someone you want to help to someone you want to run from.
This is absolutely true. But so is Dylon's counter observation that "She's always going through a lot."
Who hasn't known someone this could be said of? Who hasn't been in the agonizing position of being genuinely needed by a not-altogether-horrible person who turns out to be a bottomless pit of perpetual need?
Norma is easily the worst parent on this list, but I love her because she's an exceptional instance of a bad parent and a dysfunctional parent/child relationship being complex, well-explored parts of a story rather than background plot contrivances.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!