RATCHED – Review by Susan Granger

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Serving as an origin prequel for the tyrannical nurse in Ken Kesey’s novel/ Milos Forman’s film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, this new, eight-part Netflix series, set in 1947, introduces stern, sharp-tongued Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson), who oozes calculating, condescending control over those she encounters.

When her story begins, former WWII nurse Mildred is applying for a job at Northern California’s luxurious Lucia State Hospital, where the notorious killer of four priests, Edmund Tolleson (Finn Wittrock), is to be held before facing trial.

There she encounters snippy head nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis) and secretive, drug-addicted, ethically-challenged Dr. Richard Hanover (Jon Jon Briones). After deviously securing a night-nurse position, Mildred Ratched quickly asserts her manipulative authority.

Meanwhile, Mildred also spars with a private detective (Corey Stoll) in the employ of eccentric heiress Lenore Osgood (Sharon Stone), whose deranged son lost his arms and legs after a terrifying LSD trip with his doctor.

There’s a patient (Sophie Okonedo) with multiple personalities, along with the boorish, vote-seeking Governor (Vincent D’Onofrio) and his press secretary Gwendolyn Briggs (Cynthia Nixon), who reveals that she’s a lesbian at a time when homosexuality was considered sinful mental illness.

Deliberately Hitchcockian, the lurid, pulpy melodrama is filmed in eye-popping, candy-colored Technicolor with stylish costumes and extravagant production design.

Series creator Evan Romansky and developer/director Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story”) envision a four-year run, the final season featuring conflict between Mildred and Randle McMurphy.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won Best Picture in 1976 with Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher nabbing Best Actor and Best Actress as Randal McMurphy and Mildred Ratched, respectively.

“There’s so little known about Mildred from the film. So everything was open for interpretation…and because it’s Ryan, he went to some very extreme places,” says Sarah Paulson, who appreciates that that Mildred is “really, really defined and multidimensional – with a real shape and a real life.”

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Ratched is a sinister, sadistic 7, riddled with explicit depictions of bizarre sexual behavior, punishing hydrotherapy and grisly lobotomies.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.