“Bates Motel” Audience Responses


I chose to read the reviews of one of my all-time favorite shows, Bates Motel. Most of the responses I read were very positive, given its 93% score from film critics and a 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I decided to start out reading the reviews of season 1, which surprisingly has the lowest season rating of 82 percent.

I found that the responses I read contain subjective opinions (normative responses). However, if the audience’s actual observations are regarded as evidence/data cited from the media, some of their observations would be considered empirical. For example, a commonality with these observations is about the cast – specifically, the casting of Norma Bates, played by Vera Farmiga, and Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates. One person even titled their review, “Vera Farmiga. That about says it all.” The majority of positive reviews mention how fantastic the actors are in their roles – this is part of their evidence that supports their statements about this show being a good TV series.

Another commonality is the mention of the storyline being gripping, suspenseful, emotional, scary, and full of twists – many describe it as a “must watch.” I would describe these as normative responses because there are no examples used as evidence. Many audience members also comment on how the atmosphere, scenery, and decor were well done. These are empirical observations, as more evidence supporting their positive reviews.

I read many reviews, but not one person took on a purely empirical (as Orlik defines it in the text) of Bates Motel. Many think the plot, characters, etc. are extraordinary, yet, some audience members write that it’s “painfully boring,” “forced and awkward,” and it has “lazy writing.” Many of the reviews, especially the negative ones, contain emotionally charged, strong opinions. It is hard to be objective or scientific about a fictional TV show, however. It all boils down to the audience’s preferences and what they look for as entertainment in a television show.