Netflix’s Ratched is captivating, wonderfully shot with a plethora of stellar performances. Like a good book, you never want to put it down, and thankfully with Netflix you have the option to binge it if you want to, which I highly recommend.
Nurse Ratched is a new show scheduled to debut on Netflix on September 18th. You may be familiar with the titles namesake from Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or more likely from the film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson. Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched in that film, won an Oscar for her portrayal as the cold and calculating nurse puts pressure on anyone who may attempt to embody that role.
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Billed as a prequel, Nurse Ratched follows the story of the character as she attempts to gain employment at a different psychiatric hospital in northern California in 1947. Having spent years during the war island hopping overseas in various M.A.S.H. units, she feels she has what it takes to be a top notch employee, although Dr. Hanover the resident physiscian isn’t sure how he can accomodate her due to funding woes. He has tried to bend the ear of Governer Milburn, expertly played by Vincent D’Onofrio as he is running for an upcoming campaign, to see if hinging his re-election on reforming the clinically insane would be to his benefit. Of course, in the late 40’s, clincally insane encompassed even general maladies and afflictions like day dreaming or masturbating. Even being gay was thought of as something that could be cured with, oh I don’t know, a lobotomy! Governer Milburn couldn’t be less enthralled by Dr. Hanover’s request, but it does spark the interest of his press secretary Gwendolyn (Cynthia Nixon) who convinces the governer that it could be worth his while.
Meanwhile, Nurse Ratched (Sarah Paulson) has found a way to blackmail another nurse at the hospital to resign so it would free up a position. Once there she begins to cement her place by dosing a patient with a drug that leaves him convulsing so that she could appear to save him. When Gwendolyn has the governor tour the facility it presents another oppurtunity for her to shine. She convinces another patient to kill himself and provides the access for him to do so. When Hanover finds the body he freaks out and thinks his chances wih the governor ruined, but Ratched offers to clean up the scene for a more permanent employment. Ratched seems to always potition herself as a figure of authority and begins to run game on everyone including Dr. Hanover. The head nurse, Bucket, is on to Ratched and although she can’t quite put her finger on it, she knows something is amiss.
The acting dynamic between the two nurses is a sight to behold and offers up some of the best scenes in the series. Paulson as Ratched clearly has the chops for such a role, no doubt her time on American Horror Story has paid off in droves here as she seems to be born for such an evil and coniving villain. It isn’t quite clear what her true motives are at the hospital, but it may have something to do with Edmund Tolleson, a crazed killer who has been brought in as a very dangerous and high profile patient that Dr. Hanover wishes to cure, and that the governor wishes to excute as a tough on crime platform for the election. The whole thing has a classic film noir tinge to it, with many suspenseful moments and plot twists including a private eye, a mysterious wealthy eccentric (Sharon Stone), drug abuse, and strange love.
Netflix’s Ratched is brilliant with a great cast, as well as a supporting cast of stellar performances. Paulson stands out above the rest, which is expected in such a role that gives the audiences that American Horror Story feel. You don’t have to be amilar with the book this was a prequel to, but after watching the series, I can alost bet viewers will now check out ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’. I give this series 5 out of 5 stars, yes I loved everything about it and am already predicting it to be HUGELY popular!