Netflix puts gruesome spin on ‘Cuckoos Nest’


Violet Chace, Entertainment Editor

The new Netflix original series “Ratched”  follows a nurse who manipulates her way to the top of a psychiatric hospital where she works. It tells the origin of nurse Mildred Ratched from the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” released in 1975. Through unique and sinister characters, the show explores a gruesome new world of discovery surrounding mental illness in the late 1940s.

“Ratched” was created in part by Ryan Murphy. His unique and somewhat obscene style is prominent throughout the series. Viewers unfamiliar with his work, such as “American Horror Story,” may find the amount of violence and extremism to be excessive. He finds a way to give viewers somewhat of a history lesson by graphically displaying the inhumane treatments used in a time when mental illness was a foreign idea and patients were treated like lab rats. The series felt more like a season of “American Horror Story” than it did a prequel to its source material, so fans of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” may be disappointed. 

“Ratched” demonizes mental illness and portrays it in a way that contributes to stigma around mental health in a bad way. Because the show is rated TV-MA, it targets an older audience that should understand the unrealistic portrayal of characters with mental illnesses, such as dissociative identity disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. 

In contrast to the grimy and more realistic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Ratched” has a cartoon-like exaggerated aesthetic of the 1940s asylum. The production and costume designers make the show unforgettable. The cinematography along with the strange lighting choices help develop a sense of understanding for what the characters are going through. There are multiple scenes where green or red lighting is cast over a sequence to add build up or influence tone. The creators also fit in clear references to classic horror like “The Shining” and “Psycho” proving they know their audience.

The cast was outstanding in “Ratched.” There were no weak performances. But Sarah Paulson outshines everyone, bringing her own twist to the classic and multi-layered character, Mildred Ratched. Despite a few writing choices and some predictable plot moments, “Ratched” is well worth watching if you are a fan of dramas, horror or psychological thrillers.