Ryan Murphy shows are typically very hit or miss. “Hollywood” was fantastic, but “The Politician” was a mess. Luckily for viewers and for Netflix, which Murphy struck a multi-picture deal with, Murphy struck gold with “Ratched.”
“Ratched” follows the famous Nurse Mildred Ratched and everything leading up to the events of the popular book-to-film adaptation “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.”
Sarah Paulson gives an outstanding performance as the titular character. Paulson and Murphy have collaborated on numerous occasions, and Paulson’s work on “Ratched” stands among her best.
Murphy is always great at creating enticing characters, and this show is no different. “Ratched” has an incredible ensemble cast alongside Paulson. Each actor shines in their roles, but it’s Judy Davis (Nurse Bucket), Finn Witrock (Edmund Tolleson) and Sophie Okonedo (Charlotte Wells) that steal the show, each delivering memorable, jaw-dropping performances.
On top of the incredible acting, the writing in “Ratched” is excellent. It is very bingeable, and that has to do with the engaging dialogue and shocking moments in each episode. The writers create an excellent atmosphere that is only enhanced by the breathtaking cinematography. Each shot is picturesque and captivates the audience.
Another aspect of this show worth mentioning is the costume design. Lou Eyrich deserves an award for his work. Each character looks gorgeous, and each outfit perfectly compliments the wearer.
Sharon Stone (Lenore Osgood) has the most captivating costumes. Her style is unique and is complimented well by the monkey she carries throughout the show. Paulson also wears brilliant, mesmerizing costumes to add to the diabolical feel of the protagonist.
But her costume is not the only thing that shines. Paulson absolutely delivers in a performance that is different from the majority of the characters Paulson plays. Paulson is usually seen crying or screaming in Ryan Murphy productions. It is a breath of fresh air to see her play a confident and charming villain. She continues Louise Fletcher’s Oscar-winning performance perfectly, as Paulson shows she can switch from being sympathetic to conniving to ruthless effortlessly. This role was meant for Paulson, and she does not disappoint.
It’s also worth noting that “Ratched” is nothing like the original “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” It is tonally different from the film, and Paulson’s Ratched is quite different from Fletcher's. Although this is a show about Nurse Ratched, her name is really the only similarity between the film and the show.
Although “Ratched” is a great show, there are definitely some flaws to it. Some of the characters had potential but weren’t fleshed out enough. Other characters did not get enough of a backstory to be impactful. And some characters did insane things, but the buildup to those insane things just wasn’t there. An excellent ensemble with tons of potential was wasted in some areas by less-than-great characters.
The writing also has issues with pace, as some actions feel rushed. There are two romances in the show that feel particularly hurried and out of place. An LGBTQ+ storyline makes an appearance, but it doesn’t feel genuine. It seems to be there just to be there.
But overall, “Ratched” is a ton of fun. The cast is amazing, the cinematography and costumes are breath-taking and Sarah Paulson in particular is incredible.
Although the writing is rushed at times, it is well worth checking out as a quick but thoroughly enjoyable binge. Just don’t expect it to be anything like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.”
Jack Freiser is a freshman majoring in media studies/telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.