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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

American Borer Story: Netflix's Ratched Review


American Borer Story. (No Spoilers.)

Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson have created some real magic together in the past. She’s had many scene stealing roles in American Horror Story, and she was electric in American Crime Story. In Ryan Murphy’s new show, Ratched, the two collaborate again but unfortunately this time the results aren’t quite as explosive or compelling.

A prequel to the classic “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” which was first a novel and then made famous by Stanley Kubrick in his film adaption in 1976, the series follows nurse Mildred Ratched, an unnerving woman who, in the film is sadistic and evil. In this version Ratched, played by Paulson, isn’t as black and white. Her motives and her past are a mystery. She has a connection with recently admitted psyche patient Edmund (Finn Wittrock), and has lesbian tendencies, a crime in the time and place the show is set.

You think all of that would make for compelling story filled with horrors and debauchery. There are elements of those things, however none of it is particularly gripping or overly interesting. Confusing events occur one after another as Ratched zigs and zags her way to the top of the hospital she works at. Sometimes she’s cold, calculated and unnerving as she commits heinous acts to reach her mysterious goals, like driving a water pick through someone’s eye. Sometimes she’s sympathetic and even nurturing, especially when it comes to her two lesbian patients, who she takes a special interest in and wants to help them.

Overall the characterisation is a bit all over the place, and in the first few episodes you don’t really know what’s going on. But that’s not to say the show isn’t without charm and even watchability. It’s colourful, in the vein of Kubrick, the outfits, the hospital, the cars are all bright and shiny, despite the darkness that occurs within them. There are moments of true horror, as the lobotomy is introduced, or as Finn Wittrock smashes in the head of a priest. However, the horror isn’t based in story, but instead revulsion. There’s mysterious and menacing music and editing that eludes to events that have very little payoff.

It feels like one of the newer seasons of American Horror Story. Formulaic, flashy, and camp and Paulson puts up a decent fight in giving the show life. if you have a spare day in quarantine (don’t we all?) you may want to watch it, and you might have a good time. Or you might be bored out of your mind.

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