Prequel tales which examine the backstory of an iconic character are always a gamble, and Bates Motel is no different. The series has the unenviable task of delivering the suspenseful tale of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) - the titular character of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho - and his inevitable descent into madness. But in a world where everyone knows the show's connection to one of the most suspenseful and celebrated films of all time, can Bates Motel create a compelling experience for viewers?
A&E certainly put together a promising team – with Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) serving as showrunners – and rolled the dice. The much talked about series premiere started things off in an intriguing way and featured a particularly strong performance from Vera Farmiga as Norman's doomed mother. Still, the series needs room to grow, and if its ratings are any indication, it might very well get the chance to do so.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bates Motel lured in 3 million viewers on Monday night. Those numbers don't surpass the 4.1 million who tuned in for last year's debut of crime drama Longmire. However, Bates Motel did bring in record-high viewers among adults 25-54 and adults 18-49, pulling in 1.6 million viewers in each demographic.
Overall, 4.6 million total viewers tuned in to the show throughout the night, including 2.5 million adults 25-54 and 2.4 million adults 18-49. Contrastly, the Longmire premiere brought in 1.4 million adults 25-54 and a 0.8 rating for adults 18-49.
Initial ratings for Bates Motel therefore indicate that the series has far broader appeal than A&E's typical programming. Whether or not that momentum can be maintained over the entire run remains to be seen, though the network has already ordered a full 10 episodes for season 1.
Whatever the fate of Bates Motel, it will be interesting to see if the show holds on to its audience, and if fellow prequel series Hannibal will manage to make as strong a first impression.
Did you watch the series premiere of Bates Motel, and if so, are you planning to stick around for subsequent episodes? Let us know in the comments.
Bates Motel airs Mondays @10pm on A&E.