Queen Vera Farmiga turns 49 today! She is my favorite actress working today not named Michelle, and I can vividly remember the moment when I knew this. Let me tell you about it.
I’d loved her for years already, but that adoration reached new heights with Bates Motel, which is a top five or ten all time show for me, thanks in large part to Vera’s extraordinary five-season performance as Norma Bates. She’d already killed it in season one, but it was towards the end of the first episode of season two that she dropped an absolute monologue bomb on us with the famous/infamous “You’re a dick” speech that Norma unleashes at the local city council meeting. My jaw dropped. It is, hands down, one of the most amazing moments in television that I’ve ever seen.
Here’s the full quote, but you really need to watch Vera spit out these lines with a mix of righteous fury and exhausted resignation. Every word of it is true, and anyone who’s lived on this planet for any length of time will find it immensely relatable and darkly humorous. It’s great writing, but it’s Vera’s astonishing performance of the material that makes it so unforgettable. It’s also a perfect encapsulation of Norma’s life philosophy in a nutshell.
“Yes, I just called you a dick because that’s what you are. I’m stuck here now because I can’t sell my property because of your stupid bypass. I’m underwater. No one told me that before I bought it. Maybe you should talk about that at a City Council meeting. Or maybe you should talk about the fact that your fancy town is run on drug money. Maybe that would be worth talking about, as opposed to crazy house moms whining about whether or not their kids have read about axe murderers and whores. Welcome to the world, ladies! There are axe murderers and whores stuffed under every rug, so your kids better read up on it and get educated because that’s what life is! It’s a cesspool! You claw and scratch and fight to swim out of it, but you never get to the top.”Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga)
Vera only lives about an hour or an hour and a half away from me, and while I’m tempted to stalk her to wish her a beautiful birthday, I’ll refrain and just say it here instead: Happy birthday Vera! Thank you for the gift of Norma, and for so many other memorable roles and films.