Classy, Boujee, ‘Ratched’

Brooke J. Freundschuh, A&E Editor

es just in time for the beginning of the spooky season.

The team that brought us “American Horror Story” has released a new series independent from the AHS franchise. Creator and producer Ryan Murphy set to Netflix to release “Ratched,” an eight part series starring the darling of “American Horror Story,” Sarah Paulson. “Ratched” is based off of the character Nurse Ratched in Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The series hit number one on Netflix’s trending page shortly after it’s release, and it is no wonder why once you delve into its intriguing chaos.

My curiosity was piqued from the very first scene, as the first plot point is introduced. The murders that take place early on garner more questions about who our killer is. The viewer is then transported in time to six months later and we are introduced to our leading lady, Mildred Ratched.

Ratched is portrayed by none other than Sarah Paulson, the Emmy winning star of Murphy’s “American Horror Story” and  “American Crime Story.” I do not believe that there is anyone more qualified to play a mysterious, deceptive, yet powerful female lead than Paulson.

Although “Ratched” is not a part of the American Horror Story franchise, myself as well as others who have watched the series agree that although it may not have the all star cast or  the easter egg connections, it is very much like watching a season of AHS.

From the beginning, it is a lot to take in, and I wondered which characters would end up being significant. The answer is all of them, even the ones a viewer may not give a second glance to at first.

When Mildred Ratched arrives in Lucia, California, life for the town as they know it comes to a halt. Ratched has an extraordinary persistence and way with words, as she negotiates herself into a position at the psychiatric hospital that will be housing Edmund Tolleson, the serial killer that is introduced in the opening scene.

Ratched is immediately seen as an outcast. Head nurse Betsy Bucket is seemingly out to get Ratched from the beginning, but I struggled wondering if she had a good reason to or not. In this series, the narrative continually changes in a way that makes the viewer ask who they should be rooting for. As time progresses, it seems that each character is as guilty as the last.

At Lucia State hospital, post World War II, many experiments are being conducted on patients who suffer from various mental health conditions. Lobotomy procedures are tested in efforts to perfect this method. The lobotomy is used to treat patients who are “suffering” from homosexual thoughts.

This story bears striking resemblance to “American Horror Story: Asylum”, yet the stories are different and do not appear redundant. In “Asylum” Paulson portrays Lana Winters, the lesbian journalist who becomes a victim of the Asylum, but in “Ratched” Paulson switches roles as one that is administering the less-than-humane treatments.

Doctor Richard Hanover is the so-called mastermind behind these operations, but it is soon revealed that his judgment is often cloudier than those he seeks to treat. Hanover has a past that haunts him and there is a price on his head that only increases as the show progresses. Desperate to seek approval and gain more funding for his mad medical experiments, Hanover seeks the help of California governor, George Willburn.

Willburn and his press secretary, Gwendolyn Briggs become recurring visitors to Lucia State. The governor implies that in order to gain his support, Hanover must declare Tolleson to be competent to stand trial so he will be sentenced to death, meanwhile Briggs develops an interest in one Nurse Ratched.

The shadows of WWII hang heavy in the air and are worn on the face of Nurse Huck.

Ratched is shown to have strange characteristics, not only in her professional, but in her personal life. These troubles are, however, well explained by her backstory and tragic connection to Tolleson.

The evolving romance between Tolleson and Dolly, although completely illogical, brings a light to the show, which sounds dark considering the circumstances, but the subject matter is pretty devoid of wholesome content.

Without question, the best acting performance in this series belongs to Sophie Okonedo, who plays patient and accomplice, Charlotte Wells. From the moment Wells entered the story, I was fully captivated by her dynamic acting performance. She is without a doubt the true star of the show. Wells is a patient who is suffering dissociative identity disorder after experiencing a traumatic event. The way Doctor Hanover interacts with Wells is another one of my favorite moments, and shows his true intentions as a doctor.

Views on each character change so rapidly that I absolutely never would have guessed that by the end I would be rooting for Betsy Bucket to stay alive.

Overall, “Ratched” is a must-watch for AHS fans and a great watch if you enjoy psychological thriller and horror. I will warn you that it definitely warrants its rating of “MA”, as it features nudity, violence, gore and deals with situations that are definitely not appropriate for younger crowds. Naturally, the series deals with mental health issues and discusses abuse and trauma in detail, so if you are triggered by such things, it may not be the show for you.

“This will only hurt a little.”