Binge and Repeat: Netflix’s ‘Ratched’ feels like a rejected ‘American Horror Story’ plotline

Netflix’s new Ryan Murphy series “Ratched” is a drama intended to provide a backstory for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s” fictional asylum employee Nurse Ratched.

The character, Nurse Ratched, is famous for being a cold and ruthless antagonist in the 1975 film. In Murphy’s latest series, he provides the character with a traumatic backstory and a first name, offering audiences the grizzly story of Mildred Ratched.

“Ratched” feels like a stale and rejected “American Horror Story” plot as the series is adorned with the latter’s creepy and gory leanings. Within the first few minutes of the pilot viewers are subjected to an over-the-top murder scene before meeting Sarah Paulson’s Mildred Ratched as she heads to a mental hospital in the hopes of seeking employment in 1947. From there the series quickly goes off the rails as Mildred works to gain a prominent role at the mental hospital and tries to protect Edmund, the man arrested for the horrific murder of four priests. When Mildred isn’t grasping for power at the hospital or acting as an angel of death, the show offers snippets of her tragic backstory.

In addition to Mildred’s violent past, “Ratched” exposes viewers to excessively vicious plots and is frankly difficult to watch. Murphy can’t seem to decide if he wants to cast Mildred as a villain or the hero of the series as she coaxes one patient to commit suicide while chastizing a colleague for a treatment that involves sitting a patient in boiling water. While Murphy continues to offer visually engaging scenes with eccentric props and bold colors, the story itself offers viewers nothing more than discomfort.

Watching “Ratched” is a bit like being trapped in a fever dream that quickly escalates into a bloody nightmare as the series inches closer and closer to becoming trauma porn. Mildred and Edmund have a particularly nauseating trauma, other characters have their own horrors and overall “Ratched” seems more focused on shocking viewers than telling a coherent story.

Despite the talent of the entire cast and Paulson’s aching performance, “Ratched” is a disturbing and nonsensical series that fails to engage the audience.

Viewers looking for a bit of mindless gore might enjoy the series, but those who prefer cohesive stories might want to skip this series.


Seasons: One

Episodes: 8

Episode length: 1 hour

TV rating: TV-MA

Language: English

Similar series: American Horror Story

“Ratched” is rated TV-MA and has one season available on Netflix. Viewers interested in Murphy’s earlier creepy work might enjoy “American Horror Story,” which is available on Hulu.