If you have ever made the marvellous decision of devouring Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or instead opted to lose yourself in Miloš Forman’s 1975 film adaptation of the same name, you will remember being morbidly awed by the formidable Nurse Ratched. In the film adaptation, the actress Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for playing the role. In fact, she is a villain so perfect that she is considered one of the greatest villains in cinematic history. And yet, the question remained– how did she become the Devil she is? Well, the Ryan Murphy directed and headlined by the ace actress Sarah Paulson Netflix’s Ratched has deliciously served all the answers, finally.
Who was Ratched before she became the tyrannical head nurse at the Salem State Hospital, what happened to her that turned her into the cold, presumably heartless horror we came her to know as? Ryan Murphy’s Ratched is the long-overdue introduction to the character years prior to her villainous showdown in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
In Ratched, the mysteries are in no hurry to unravelled and everyone is nurturing an agenda of their own building up the suspense as the story’s layers are peeled with a character as interesting and enigmatic as Sarah Paulson’s Mildred Ratched holding the reins. Some may be put off by how…mild Ratched is in the series but you have to remember that the character is yet to embrace the darkness in her soul and is still fighting with a conscious that constantly reminds her to retain her heart.
Apart from Sarah Paulson who is a regular collaborator with Ryan Murphy, Ratched also brings Finn Wittrock, as Edmund Tolleson, who is has killed four priests in cold blood. Set in 1947, the series then introduces us to former wartime nurse Mildred who is mysteriously dead-set on getting a job at the same medical facility, run by Dr Richard Hanover (Jon Jon Briones), that Tolleson will be admitted in as he needs a psychological evaluation and to be deemed fit for trial.
But it’s not only Mildred Ratched who has her own nefarious plans to complete– Hanover is busy experimenting with various dangerous ways of treating mental illnesses. He is on the run from the ridiculously rich Lenore Osgood (a dazzling Sharon Stone who proves that is way beyond the Basic Instinct persona everyone wants to remember her by.)
While Sarah Paulson is, undoubtedly, the best choice for playing the complex character of Mildred Ratched who is a guiltless killer but still harbours a certain empathy, the star of Ratched is Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, the Governor’s press secretary. A lesbian in a sham marriage, she is attracted to Mildred and in a span of seconds goes from stern to sensuous to vulnerable with a flair that can be called nothing but art.
Our advice? In the beginning, it may appear that the series has no sense of direction and has lost itself in its own attempts at forced grandeur and shrewdness. But give it time, because it won’t be long before you are hooked and thanking your lucky stars that Ratched has already been given the green flag for a second season.