Art & Life

‘Ratched’: A TV Series Review

The new TV series “Ratched” hit Netflix in September. From the creator of “American Horror Story,” Ryan Murphy puts a new spin on Nurse Ratched. 

Based on the character from Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the series takes viewers on the journey of Mildred Ratched right after World War 2. This is a little less than 20 years before “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” takes place. 

Sarah Paulson, famous for her intense characters in AHS, is joined by many other beloved actors. She acts besides Finn Wittrock, who has also been a part of the AHS cast. We can’t forget her big female co-stars like Cynthia Nixon, Sharon Stone and Judy Davis. 

The TV series starts with an opening scene of killer proportions. Then it jumps to Mildred Ratched in California for a nursing job in a mental health institution. You watch as she runs this institution in the background. 

In the movie adaptation, Louise Fletcher portrays Nurse Ratched as cold and stoic. Sarah Paulson brings this version of Mildred alive at the beginning of the series. However, as the season progresses, there’s so much more to Mildred. She might even have a heart.  

Even the worst of Mildred’s actions are justified in her mind. Everything she does is to save the one person who has been there for her since she was young. 

The plot had me on my toes the entire series. It has the twisting dark plots that you come to expect from AHS. Instead of horror though, it’s filled with suspense. The plot is original and I never knew what was going to come next.  

It’s not one of those plots where you can guess the next scene because it follows the usual plot lines. I’ve gotten good at spotting these clues but not in “Ratched.” I had no idea what was going to happen.  

I’m not surprised at Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Mildred Ratched. Paulson has been consistently impressing AHS lovers for years now. She’s won several awards and for good reason. 

Paulson brings out the many dimensions of Mildred Ratched’s personality. She brings to life the parts of Nurse Ratched that Kesey and the movie adaptation didn’t. Though it has its own plotline, you get an idea of why Nurse Ratched is how she is in the book. You see past her obsession with control and power. 

Finn Wittrock doesn’t disappoint either. He plays Edmund Tolleson who shares a big secret with Mildred. He turns a broken man into a classic murderous sociopath.  

Then there’s Cynthia Nixon, famous for playing Miranda on Sex and the City. Her character, Gwendolyn, is a political adviser to the governor of California. Gwendolyn opens Mildred up to who she truly is and shows her that she deserves love. 

I have very few critiques for “Ratched.” My biggest issue is how the series represents mental illness. I will say that this series does a fantastic job of showing how professionals treated mental illness in the 1940s.  

There are lobotomies performed and hypnotherapy. There’s the hydrotherapy they used to “cure” homosexuality. It was, unfortunately, considered a mental illness back in the day. 

However, it does a disservice to Dissociative Identity Disorder. It was known as Multiple Personality Disorder until the 1990s. It uses the stereotype that those who suffer from this illness are violent and dangerous. 

If I were to rate “Ratched” on a scale of 10 stars, I’d give it 9 stars. The crazy plot and the superb acting makes the fact that there are only nine episodes worth it.  

Netflix has renewed “Ratched” for a second season. After the cliffhanger we were left with, I have to know what happens next. 

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