Ratched Netflix Series Review: Visually arresting but undermines its characters.
What is the story about?
It’s an official adaptation of the character from the novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) by Ken Kesey and serves as a spin-off of the character “Mildred Ratched”. Who seeks employment at Lucia State Hospital with an agenda of her own. What follows next forms the crux of the season created by Evan Romansky and Ryan Murphy.
Set in the backdrop of 1947, the series surely creates a great aura and you get settled into the premise of the show. It slowly eases you in by establishing characters and being an origin spin-off the foundation seemed fair and you prepare to ignore the pace and the time the writers took to make their point. But slowly it slips into chaos by defending the leading character bringing out a shade which it really didn’t stand for. Nurse Ratched is known for her brutal character but when you see her side the patients who’ve committed heinous crimes and showing them mercy, you start to lose patience. It surely broke the character’s purpose and was diving into a different dimension which anyone who hasn’t watched or read the One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest would find the series moving in the wrong direction.
What seemed a perfect foundation to the character origin slowly starts to feel a bit doomed, because Mildred Ratched is pitiless and a treacherous face of the institution and the state. That makes the character frightening and inhumane but the Netflix version defends her as this realistic and nuanced person.
Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson have a strong bond and she has starred in his work that includes America Horror Story and America Crime Story. But you do get the gore and the cheerful vulgarity that tries to ease the audience to keep them invested who come looking for the same in this genre. But the excessive drama built around it starting mid-season spoils the fun. But it tries to recover the lost integrity in the last episode that ends in a cliffhanger. So, we can expect a better and well-scripted second season that may make its comeback with a bang.
I have no complaints about the performances. Each and every character has put their soul into their respective characters and has performed diligently. Performances are one of the strongest suits of Ratched, which makes up for the screenplay which kind of starts to derail in between.
Without a doubt, Sarah Paulson (Nurse Mildred Ratched) is hands down the best, who can dish out a formidable performance with ease. She powers through every shade given to her. That makes her perfect for the attire that the series required. Finn Wittrock (Edmund Tolleson) is a great performer and I’m sure he’s to dish out a great deal in the second season. Cynthia Nixon (Gwendolyn Briggs) was commendable so was Judy Davis (Nurse Betsy). Jon Jon Briones (Dr. Richard Hanover) did a great job. There was this character which catches you off guard and surprises you with her performance, Alice Englert (Dolly) may have a small stint but surely makes a good impression.
But one character who shines above all is Sophie Okonedo (Charlotte Wells), she was impeccable and brilliant. Loved her character and I’m very excited for the second season.
Amidst so many great actors, Sharon Stone (Leonore Osgood) was a disappointing one. From the promos, I expected her character had a lot to do but she was reduced to a materialistic affluent heiress. Wish they had brought her in for a better role.
Music & Other Departments
The technical department of the series was fabulous. Usually, a series of this genre carries a monotone grading keeping the mood grim throughout the runtime. Surprisingly, Ratched is vibrant and the way they’ve played with colours is brilliant. Despite the vibrant look, the darkness looms with the subject in hand. The cinematography was brilliant. The editing was creative which had the old reel touch infused with the digital. The background score was eerie as expected.
The art direction was fantastic, every set and location was packed with perfect props that accentuated the series.
Definitely the performances by the actors are one of the strongest suits of the series. Besides performances, the technical department was brilliant. Despite its shortcoming, Ratched manages to hold your attention with key elements which are laid to build the origin of Nurse Ratched.
Misrepresenting the original character and defending it with over-explanation kind of diluted the experience in the second half of the first season.
Did I enjoy it?
I did enjoy it and I’m looking forward to the second season.
Do I recommend it?
I recommend it. I’m sure the fans of the novel and the classic would like to give this series a shot.