Creator Evan Romansky kicked off Netflix’s fall season with “Ratched,” a psychological drama about a headstrong and assertive nurse in the 1940s who lands a job at a mental institution where her dark past leads her to take matters into her own hands, no matter how bloody the consequences.
Nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson) is a character from the 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Romansky teamed up with producer Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” and “Glee”) to create a prequel of the novel explaining how Ratched became the seemingly heartless woman she is.
Ratched is given an original storyline that Netflix — which released the show Sept. 18 — describes as suspenseful drama. But as you join Ratched on her hostile takeover, romantic relationships and existential journey, the genre becomes blurred.
This series, set in Northern California, is nothing short of horrific, suspenseful, thrilling, erotic, downhearted and at times, gory. After experiencing the emotional rollercoaster caused by bingeing the eight hour-long episodes at Lucia State Hospital, viewers may question whether or not they should check-in, too.
This show’s range of emotions will likely cause viewers to question what they were expecting in the first place and allow the show to tell them what to be interested in.
Ratched is conniving, threatening and condescending, making her character hardly likable. But her will to save the hospital’s newest patient, a murderer of four priests, from his death sentence is intriguing and provokes viewers to continue watching the destruction she causes along the way.
Ratched constantly manipulates the other characters for her own gain, including Doctor Hanover (Jon Jon Briones), her secret admirer Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon) and hitman Charles Wainwright (Corey Stoll).
The lack of loyalty is not foreign to this hospital, nor the nearby hotel, in which many reside. These characters are fueled by love, money and the need to protect dark secrets that lead them to do unspeakable things, which in this series, is often murder.
Viewers will most likely be shocked as hidden motives constantly change alliances throughout the TV show. But perhaps the most shocking twist of all isn’t about who is left alive by the end of this series, but how easy it becomes to root for such cold-blooded and murderous antagonists.
However, this idea of rooting for the bad guy may sound familiar for fans of Murphy’s other shows, such as “Scream Queens” and “American Horror Story.” But to those who are less acquainted with his work, “Ratched” will most likely be seen as original and unpredictable.
Despite taking place in the early 20th century, this series has a strong theme of female empowerment. They face sexualization, homophobia and discrimination constantly, but they don’t let it stop them from achieving greatness and exerting influence. They run hospitals, influence politicians, save lives and rescue the vulnerable. Women are the heart of this series.
The inclusivity of Romansky and Murphy’s artistic realization surpasses gender. The amount of racial diversity is satisfying, however, the plausibility of their interactions is debatable. The racial comments and discrimination are minimal. People of color on this show are treated as equals and hold positions of power alongside their white peers.
While to some viewers, this fantasy may serve as an escape that allows viewers to simply enjoy the series. To others, it may cause contempt from the lack of acknowledgment of their plight. The series’ lack of consistency with the era is the only major critique of the show’s execution.
“Ratched” is very well-written and maintains its strength till the end. This beautifully in-depth storyline will not disappoint most viewers. In fact, it will strengthen the empathy they have for the characters. The last couple episodes answer many questions while adding mystery that allures viewers to gear up for the next season.
After Netflix won the bidding war over Hulu and Apple in 2017, they ordered two seasons consisting of 18 episodes. This may provide peace for viewers who were looking for closure to the ominous end of season one.
“Ratched,” rated MA, is currently streaming on Netflix.