“Ratched” is Ryan Murphy’s third film series to premiere on Netflix. His involvement includes other Netflix Original Series titled “Hollywood” and “The Politician.” He also wrote and produced a Netflix Documentary called “A Secret Love.”
Ryan Murphy’s overall filmography includes “Glee,” “Scream Queens,” “Pose” and, most famously, “American Horror Story.” He began writing in the industry in the 1990s, but found early success in a medical drama series titled “Nip/Tuck.” He is often the writer, director and executive producer of many of the projects he works on.
To the audience’s surprise, “Ratched”’s pilot was written by Evan Romansky, not Ryan Murphy. Evan Romansky wrote the pilot in graduate school while pondering the backstory of Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and hoping to practice his screenwriting skills. He was hoping to get some recognition and representation. Romansky had connections to Murphy through film internships and sent him the script. He was immediately interested in the depth, complexity and potential that the pilot had. It took four years for the film to make it to the screen, but, now, it’s here!
Ratched was released on Sept. 18. It quickly took number one in the Top 10 in the U.S. Netflix ranks. It held the number one spot for two weeks. It is still in the Netflix Top 10 three weeks later. On the contrary, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer scored it at 60 percent with an audience score of 72 percent. Although I find this score a bit harsh, the show is under a magnifying glass when creating a spinoff for such critically-acclaimed intellectual property.
Ratched’s characterization and casting was exquisite. Nurse Ratched is cold, heartless and mean in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” One can only assume what trauma caused her to become so rigid and jaded. In “Ratched,” we meet Nurse Ratched a few decades before the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” plot and setting. She is a bit warmer, but stern. We also find her to be very manipulative and self-rewarding. Sarah Paulson as our protagonist, Mildred Ratched, set the show up with a powerhouse performer front and center.
Actor Finn Wittrock as Edmond Tolleson is spot on. We recognize him from “AHS: Freak Show” as Dandy Mott. His character, Edmond, has a lot of the same psychopathic characteristics as Dandy Mott. An actress that I thought was absolutely outstanding and was completely blown away by was Sophie Okonedo. She plays Charlotte Wells, a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder (now called dissociative personality disorder). Her performance deserves an Emmy. She portrays a mental illness with accuracy and without disrespecting those who suffer from DID. It is clear there was thorough research conducted to create such a precise and sensitive performance. The cast is substantial and filled with familiar faces (“American Horror Story,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Sex and The City,” “Teen Wolf”) but these three were outstanding to me. This cast overall is incredibly talented.
Personally, I really enjoyed this show, and I think “American Horror Story” fans would enjoy it too. It has everything we love about “AHS” embedded into it: gore, multiple storylines, complex characters and intense cinematography.
My one recommendation is to watch “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” before watching “Ratched.” You should get to know Nurse Ratched in her original media. Reading the Ken Kesey novel definitely gives you some extra gold stars and brownie points.
In conclusion, “Ratched” is classically a Ryan Murphy production. It is an easy binge with its fast pace and only eight episodes. Perfect selection for the Halloween season!