Ratched: The Gruesomely, Stunning Masterpiece

Why Ratched should be your next weekend binge.


Seager Johnson

Mildred Ratched can even contain a sinister expression when seen with very few features.

Seager Johnson, Art Director

Written By: Seager Johnson

Following it’s Netflix debut last Friday, September 18th, talk of Ryan Murphy’s Ratched has been everywhere. Ratched is a horror/thriller style series, adapted from the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. It serves as a prequel to the movie, telling the origin story of nurse Mildred Ratched. Be warned, Ratched is presented with beautiful cinematography and stunning shots, but it is not easy on the eyes. As the show opens up with a grueling and gory scene and has an MA rating, it is not recommended that anyone under the age of 15 watches this show.

(Seager Johnson)

Ryan Murphy, screenwriter, director, and producer has had more than his fair share of success. You may recognize his name from works like American Horror Story, The Politician, or Glee, all of which you can find on Netflix. Any fan of American Horror Story(AHS) will love Ryan Murphy’s new masterpiece Ratched, starring recurring AHS actress Sarah Paulson. Though it has the same general horror feel of a season of AHS, Ryan Murphy uses a new style of writing to separate Ratchet from a typical AHS season, leaving the audience with an artful, spine-chilling thriller. 

Seager Johnson

What made Ratched take #1 in Netflix’s weekly Top 10 days after release? 

Ryan Murphy has become a symbol of popular culture. Through his variety of shows covering various controversial topics, each one leaves a powerful message. In Ratched, Nurse Ratched loosely represents feminism and female power. Her calm attitude and determination can be inspiring, while all too creepy at the same time. This piece of work is very different from most of Ryan’s previous work, as he focuses on a fictional character from another movie. In Murphy’s horror-themed shows, he took a risk on Ratched by focusing the majority of the fear in the show on a single character. Since Ratched serves as a prequel to another movie, there has also been a lot of criticism that has brought Ratchet to the spotlight. 

What about the criticism?

Do you judge a show by its criticism before you watch it?

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Ratched has been highly praised, while also highly criticized. Horror fans and Ryan Murphy fans love the show. Going into the show, people were expecting, and even excited for, the murder, mayhem, and gore, but many critics like Delia Harrington preferred for Ratchet to have “leaned on the origins”. Harrington, like many critics, praised the way Murphy transferred Mildred’s use of subtle shame to control people from the movie to the series, but she only praises the subjects that transfer to the show. The negative criticism towards the show acknowledges the artfulness that the show contains, as Linda Holmes from NPR writes that “ratched is beautiful”, but refers to it as a “messy eight-episode first season”. Holmes references the stunning cinematography but claims that they don’t support a storyline applicable to that of the prequel. However, though this serves as a prequel, the audience doesn’t need to have any prior knowledge. A lot of the arguments about whether it’s a good show or not are based solely on whether it serves its purpose as a prequel. Ryan Murphy’s main goal was to bring a story to life and create his own version of a character from a movie, but did he really just make a mistake?

If we take a closer look at the reviews on Murphy’s shows, many of them have terrible critic reviews but good audience reviews, so Murphy is not new to criticism. American Horror Story receives critic ratings between mid 60% to high 80% for each season, with audience ratings often ranging higher. The Politician received a low rating of 48% critic rating, but an 81% audience rating. This shows that though Murphy’s shows are highly criticized, but the audience, and especially fans of Murphy’s work, love it.

Though every risk has a potential for failure, I would consider Ratched to be a success. Though it may not seem like an origin story, the story is not over as it has already been renewed for a second season. Whether it can be agreed to be a successful origin story or not, Ratched successfully integrates positive messages into its sub-story lines and presents a rare look at topics like the undercover queer life of the ’40s and the real brutality that existed in the American Mental Health facilities. Ratched also successfully presents a new side of nurse Mildred Ratched that may not serve fully as an origin story, but a well-done reimaging of her character.