Notable TV roles: Norma Bates, Bates Motel (A&E)

There were times during Bates Motel’s debut season when we weren’t quite sure what the hell was going on. Sometimes, negatively so, but not in regards to Vera Farmiga’s wildly original performance as Norma Bates. The show demands a lot of different things from Norma—nuance/broadness, calculating/insane, doting mother/uncomfortably too comfortable mother—and she delivered.

lesser actress would have made the role feel more all over the place and erratic than it’s (probably) supposed to, but Farmiga brought a measured quality that made it fascinating instead of laughable. Chances are she won’t get the Emmy nod, but she definitely delivered some of the year’s best work.