Premiering today on Netflix is RATCHED, a suspenseful drama series created by writer Evan Romansky and co-written/co-directed, and co-executive produced by Ryan Murphy – the celebrated creator behind the American Horror Story, Pose and American Crime Story series.
A retro and gorgeously stylish production – with cars, wardrobe and decor in an array of colors and the latter two muted to complement scenes – the series is pleasing to the eye, but its story is not as gratifying as I expected, especially with a heavyweight like Sarah Paulson in the titular role.
Here’s the synopsis: Ratched tells the origin story of Mildred Ratched, a character first introduced in the novel, and subsequent feature film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Set in 1947, the story begins with Mildred’s arrival in Northern California to seek employment at Lucia State Hospital where, unbeknownst to her, the head doctor is completing horrific procedures on patients with mental health issues – and sometimes patients who are simply living outside of the time’s social norms. Intent on working at the hospital, Mildred manipulates her way on to its staff and rises in rank, while infiltrating the system and those within it to accomplish a mission based on a frightening and well-guarded secret.
The show boasts a strong cast, with Paulson and co-stars Jon Jon Briones, Judy Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Finn Wittrock, Sharon Stone, and Charlie Carver. Amanda Plummer, Sophie Okonedo, Corey Stoll, Vincent D’Onofrio, Alice Englert, and Brandon Flynn also guest star – with Okonedo delivering a stand-out performance as a patient admitted with Dissociative Identity Disorder known formerly as Multiple Personality Disorder. She steals each scene she’s in and I wish she can just be handed a 2021 Emmy now.
And an almost unrecognizable Vincent D’Onofrio and veteran actress Sharon Stone also turn in remarkable performances and helped to hold some of my interest. But a few plot holes and the story being a slow burn in between the gore (it’s a Ryan Murphy production so gory should go without saying) ultimately contributed to mostly disinterest winning my internal viewing war.
I feel like I fought my way through watching eight episodes, investing time and wanting to see how it played out, only to be let down by the ending – which appeared to mostly focus on setting up a season two (non-spoiler site, so you’ll see it when you watch).
The concept of giving a well-known literary character an origin story is intriguing and the casting choices are amazing, but the story’s development and pacing leaves much to be desired. I would rather watch re-runs of the campy hit American Horror Story: Coven, or get my drama, real-life horror fix from the ripped from the headlines American Crime Story anthology. Ratched, in all its want to be fictional dramatic horror glory, just simply misses too many marks.
I rate it 2.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
RATCHED is streaming now on Netflix.
Until next thought, Thomasena