Despite its downfalls, Netflix’s new series Ratched is an amalgamation of gore, violence and tension with huge binging potential.
After everyone has rinsed Netflix’s back catalogue over the last 6 months, it’s refreshing to see something new on our screens and this new series, Ratched, should definitely be on your list. Starring Sarah Paulson, Ratched is an origin story of the tyrannous Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Paulson truly is the highlight of the show. Her performance as Mildred Ratched is both an exciting yet perplexing and mysterious one.
Throughout the episodes, we learn more about her past, and her character unravels yet you can never pinpoint who she really is. When watching, you find yourself in a constant battle over her character; her motives and intentions are unclear and this is ultimately where the excitement lies. Her actions and behaviour never cease to surprise you and hence why it’s hard to stop watching. Paulson is a fierce protagonist that you’re strangely always rooting for. She dazzles throughout with her fine-tuned, meticulous and powerful portrayal of Mildred Ratched and it feels as though the role was made for her.
Other honourable mentions go to Finn Wittrock and Sophie Okonedo. Wittrock plays the role of Edmund Tolleson, a high profile patient at Lucia State Hospital and his multifaceted portrayal of a murderer is enticing and convincing and his character develops in an unexpected way, making this role all the more interesting. Okonedo portrays Charlotte Wells, a patient suffering from multiple personality disorder and despite only appearing in the latter half of the show, she is definitely a memorable recurring cast member.
Another surprising element of the show is the visuals. Developed by Ryan Murphy, the views of the Californian coast are breathtaking and the cinematics are decadent and opulent, bursting with life and colour; it’s quite the contrast to the bleakness of the themes of the show. Despite the beauty of it, it’s clouded by the unsettling feeling that Murphy is glamourising the idea of mental illness and psychological torment and therefore feels a bit dissociated and out of place when watching.
The show consists of 8 fast-paced episodes – Ratched is definitely not a slow burner! It’s full of satisfying twists and turns yet there are times where the show misses the mark. The violence and gore is explicit and leaves very little to the imagination and, throughout, it can often be difficult to watch and some may liken it to ‘torture porn’ — I wouldn’t recommend if you’re squeamish. The series is also cheapened by the several romantic narratives that overwhelm the plot. Most of these scenes are cringe-worthy, uncomfortable to watch and feel completely unnecessary. The LGBT relationships are always referred to as mental ailments and the people ‘suffering’ need to be treated or cured; I commend them for exploring homosexuality in a series set in the 1940s and, thankfully, they are relevant to the plot and the development of particular characters yet it feels forced and awkward in places. The heterosexual relationships are just as bad. The sex scenes are almost unbearable and make you recoil with embarrassment and these romance narratives add nothing to the plot and seem as though they were written in as an after-thought or to bulk up some of the episodes.
However, looking past this, it’s undeniably entertaining and engages you from the very beginning. The series has you constantly battling with your own moral compass whilst trying to figure out somebody else’s. The lines between good and evil become blurred and you find yourself unsure of what side you’re on, which changes within an episode. Ratched plays mind games with you and takes you on a rollercoaster of suspense, shock and oftentimes discomfort that you never want to alight from. The cast are expected to make a return as Ratched received a two-season order, so hopefully we’ll see the second season 12-18 months from now. Ratched, overall, is gripping and enjoyable and the downfalls are forgivable. It’s an easy binge-watch and a good piece of guilt-free entertainment.
Ratched is available on Netflix now. You can watch the trailer below.