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5 Shows like Bates Motel: Home to All Evil

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorIf you enjoy the kind of viewing experience that keeps you on the edge of your seat, you’re probably a fan of ‘Bates Motel’ already. If you need more shows like ‘Bates Motel’ to keep your adrenaline levels at a dangerous high, you should tap into the world of ‘Hemlock Grove’ and ‘Psychoville’, too. ~ Roxanne Sancto

A Classic Hitchcock Tale, Re-Imagined

In the wake of tragedy, relationships have a tendency to change severely and that is most certainly the case for Norma (Vera Farmiga) and her son Norman (Freddie Highmore), following the death of Norman’s father. In an attempt to start a new life, Norma buys a run-down motel but on their first night running it, they are faced with another horrible situation: they’ve just murdered the former owner of the motel. 

These traumatic experiences take a toll on Norma and Norman. Norma finds it increasingly hard to trust people after all the abuse she has suffered and adopts an “us vs. them” attitude towards the world. Norman finds it difficult to relate to his peers and suffers from violent blackouts which seem to shape his future.

‘Bates Motel’ is considered to be one of the scariest shows on Netflix. If you’re looking for more creepy family situations and demons from the past, check out the shows below.


Shows Similar to ‘Bates Motel’…

‘Hemlock Grove’ (Netflix, 2013-2015)

Hemlock Grove’ may seem like an ordinary town suffering an economic crisis but there’s far more to the residents of this town than meets the eye. Ruled by the Godfrey Institute for Biomedical Technologies, head of the institute Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen) exerts power over her employees as well as her family. Her son and heir to the empire, Roman (Bill Skarsgård), does not see eye to with his mother and the way she treats his deformed sister, Shelley (Madeleine Martin).

When the Romani-boy Peter (Landon Liboiron) comes to live in town, he is quickly accused of two brutal murders and is rumoured to be a Werewolf. Only Roman knows the rumours to be true and that he, too, has a dark secret: an insatiable hunger for blood.

Similarity Match: 85%
Both shows are set in mysterious, close-knit environments and the protagonists have complicated relationships with their mothers. ‘Hemlock Grove’ incorporates more Sci-Fi and gore aspects.

‘Carnivàle’ (HBO, 2003-2005)

Set during the Depression-era of the Dirty Thirties, ‘Carnivàle’ follows two separate, highly intriguing plot lines. One part of the show focuses on Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl), a young man who discovers he has healing powers and is also prone to vivid, often terrifying dreams and visions.

The other part follows the Methodist preacher, Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown), who shares the same visions as Ben and has the ability to manipulate people’s free will, making them dance to his tune.

When Ben joins a travelling carnival, his visions lead him to search for a man named Henry Scudder, a hobo who once travelled with the same carnival and had a gift similar to Ben’s. Brother Justin continues to abuse his powers, but as he feels Ben and the carnival moving closer, he begins to prepare himself for the ultimate confrontation.

Similarity Match: 80%
‘Carnivàle’ highlights the fight between good and evil by ways of religion and mysticism, whereas ‘Bates Motel’ explores human evil by ways of trauma. The protagonists in both shows struggle with their good/evil streaks.

‘Psychoville’ (BBC Two, 2009-2011)

A mysterious figure known as the ‘Black Gloved Man’ is blackmailing five individuals in different parts of England. The first letter each individual receives simply states, “I know what you did…” The second letter says, “You killed her” and in the third episode, they all receive a video tape showing them in an asylum together.

Those subjected to the blackmail each have their own secrets to guard. David Sowerbutts (Steve Pemberton) is obsessed with serial killers and can recite any serial-killer fact at the drop of a hat; when he accidentally kills someone, his overbearing mother, Maureen (Reece Shearsmith), does whatever it takes to protect him.

Similarity Match: 70%
Though ‘Psychoville’ incorporates a lot of comical elements it is bizarre and mysterious and David and Maureen’s relationship is like an exaggerated version of Norma and Norman’s.


If You Like ‘Bates Motel’, You Will Like…

What makes TV series like ‘Bates Motel’ and ‘Hemlock Grove’ so interesting, is not just the violent, murderous sides of the main characters but their backgrounds and the complicated relationships they find themselves in due to their secret lives and/or lack of trust towards others.

If you’re looking for more series similar to ‘Bates Motel’, give ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Masters of Sex’ a try.

‘Hannibal’ (NBC, 2013-2015)

Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is a lecturer at the FBI academy. But when a series of brutal murders has the people of Minnesota fearing their lives, Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) recruits him for the Behavioural Science Unit.

Graham has the ability to tap into the mind of serial killers, which weighs heavily on his psyche. In order to make sure his mental health doesn’t decline, Crawford asks the forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, to supervise Graham, not realizing that Lecter is, in fact, a cannibalistic serial killer.

Norman Bates could easily be the Hannibal Lecter of the future. Unlike Bates, Lecter seems to have figured out how to lead a normal life despite his psychopathic personality.

‘Masters of Sex’ (Showtime, 2013- )

You might find it strange that I am including a TV show like ‘Masters of Sex’ on this list, but hear me out! Two doctors researching human sexuality may not have much to do with the plot of ‘Bates Motel’. However, ‘Masters of Sex’ protagonist, Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen), and Norman Bates share a thing or two in common: unhealthy relationships with their mothers, which appear to affect their future personalities and relationships.

Although plot wise ‘Bates Motel’ and ‘Masters and Sex’ share little in common, it’s the protagonists relationships with their mothers that are strangely similar.


Creepy Towns and Mommy Issues

Mysterious towns have always been attractive for TV fanatics who are into series like ‘Bates Motel’ or ‘Twin Peaks’. But what make them even better are the characters that rule these towns or (even better), when they are treated like the black sheep of the village.

There’s no character more intriguing than a man who still seems to be attached to his mother’s umbilical cord: needy, frustrated, confused, aggressive and/or violent. Every woman’s dream. 

Which of these momma’s boys did you find most interesting?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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