Ratched Review: Bonkers, Brilliant, and Bloody!

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American Horror Story is taking 2020 off, but Netflix's Ratched has a lot in common with the beloved anthology series. 

It comes from Ryan Murphy and is led by the wonderful Sarah Paulson, who has played a string of different characters throughout the 10-season run of American Horror Story

Being a prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the best selling novel, which has already been adapted in other mediums, made it a risky endeavor. 

Ratched Key Art

But enough time has passed since the 1975 movie, which was one of the defining movies of that century, to allow for a new take on the well-known character of Nurse Ratched. 

Paulson is a seasoned actress with a range unlike any other, and it is clear from the get-go that she can command a room without much effort. 

Sarah Paulson is Ratched

While many people will assume that the series was constructed due to a lack of original ideas in Hollywood, there is a genuinely terrifying story being told throughout the eight-episode first season. 

Mildred knows how to get what she wants and uses her first-rate skills of manipulation to flawlessly steer the action in her favor. 

It takes a certain kind of person to do that, and that's part of the beauty of the character. Mildred can be your friend to your face but can be scheming behind the scenes so that she can execute your downfall when it needs to happen. 

These types of characters are typically unlikeable, but there's a lot to love about Mildred. She has quick wit and awe-inspiring fashion, but she also has a vulnerable side. 

Ratched Season 1 Poster

It's fair to assume that Mildred is the villain of this tale, but there could be a method to her madness. That allows her become a three-dimensional character, and it's the best thing I could ask for in a series like this. 

Her arrival in Northern California to seek employment leads to enough one-liners to fill an entire season, but she is a woman on a mission, and she strives for perfection ... even if it means there will be some bodies along the way. 

There's a darkness within Mildred just waiting to erupt, and it's a lot of fun watching all the insanity unfold. 

The asylum setting is very similar to, you guessed it, American Horror Story: Asylum. Had this show been billed as a season of the FX anthology, it could pass as a spiritual successor to AHS: Asylum. 

Nurse Ratched on Ratched

Netflix is known for having a seemingly endless budget for their programming, providing for excellent visuals on their productions, and Ratched is no different. 

The 1947 setting is stunning, with beautiful cars, clothing, and people who feel like they have been ripped out of that decade. 

It feels authentic, and since many shows and movies don't focus on the finer details, sometimes to the point that you can tell the set has been dressed in a certain fashion, the authenticity is appreciated here and pulls you in to the story. 

Finn Wittrock is another standout as serial killer Edmund Tollison, someone who brings a lot of much-needed attention to the asylum. 

Paulson and Nixon on Ratched

He has worked with Murphy on multiple projects already, but Wittrock is given his most complicated character to date in Edmund. 

Judy Davis also brings a lot to the table as Nurse Betsy Bucket, Mildred's adversary, who would love nothing more than for Mildred to get the boot from the hospital. 

They are sworn enemies from their first meeting, and the back and forth doesn't get tiring in the slightest. 

The show also includes standout performances from the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Jon Jon Briones, Charlie Carver, and Sharon Stone. 

Sharon Stone and Finn Wittrock on Ratched

What may not be for everyone, though, are the bonkers twists that come out of nowhere. Many TV shows run out of gas after a strong pilot, but Ratched continues to fire from all cylinders right up until the finale. 

Some of the developments are not grounded in reality, but they send the show in directions that do not seem possible. 

You may need to suspend your disbelief to fully enjoy the series, but this is fiction. Why wouldn't you want the opportunity to suspend your disbelief?

Ratched is worth the watch for Paulson alone because of the way she portrays the iconic character, but the plot has legs to carry the series, so expect several seasons. 

Sharon Stone on Ratched

Thankfully, Ratched is not another Hollywood (the Netflix series, not the town). Hollywood took a style-over-substance approach to telling the tale. 

If you're in the market for a psychological thriller that will make your head spin, then Ratched is the show for you. 

Will you give the series a shot?

Hit the comments below. 

Ratched premieres September 18 on Netflix. 


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ratched Quotes

Mildred: Excuse me. You're eating my peach.
Bucket: I haven't eaten anything.
Mildred: Alright, you're holding my peach.
Bucket: So?
Mildred: So, it's mine. The peach, in your hand.
Bucket: I don't see your name on it.
Mildred: And who would do that?
Bucket: Do what?
Mildred: Put their name on a peach.
Bucket: Somebody who really wanted it.
Mildred: And how would someone go about such a thing.
Bucket: I don't know, felt tip?
Mildred: No one has ever put their name on a peach with a felt tip.

Mildred: Why did you bring me here?
Gwendolyn: I thought you were one of us.