The Soul Food We Didn't Know We Needed
Nurse Ratched Is Back In The House
When most people think of food for the soul, what comes to mind for many might be something more kin to yoga, meditation, or the advice from self-help gurus. These are things I also enjoy from time to time, so I can understand the appeal. However, these days, what has helped feed my soul, is the new Netflix original series titled “Ratched”, a prequel series about Nurse Mildred Ratched, the antagonist from “One Flew Over The Cuckcoo’s Nest”, put together by Ryan Murphy, who is known for his work with “Niptuck” and “American Horror Story”. This is a series I had seen only one trailer for before watching the piolet, having heard nothing about the connection to the iconic nurse. When this realization came, I knew this was going to be something very interesting and exciting, even with watching only the first episode. Watching this first season, I look forward to many more seasons to follow. Being that this story takes place twenty years before the events of “One Flew Over The Cuckcoo’s Nest”, there’s no doubt there’s a lot of ground to cover before everything ties into that famous story line the world knows so well.
This first season is where you see the beginning of Mildred Ratched’s nursing career. The first hospital she goes to work for and how she will go out of her way to get what she wants, to obtain what she feels she needs to keep order. This latter point is a very true trait to the character the world already knows. What’s interesting with this series, is how well the writing, and Sarah Paulson’s performance, blends into a very believable portrait of a younger version of this very complex woman. She has walls, thick walls hiding her true self from the world around her; this much we could already assume with the novel and the film where Nurse Ratched originated. With this series, we are given the chance to peel back each thick layer of this woman until we’ve gathered a fair assumption as to why this woman will eventually turn out the way she does.
Everyone performance shines in this show, from the secondary characters, to even the ensemble. But of course, the one actor with the weight of the world on her shoulders and much to prove is Sarah Paulson. The role she has been given is one that is so iconic, so well known, it would have been very easy for anyone else to crumble under all that weight. Sarah Paulson brings something to this character that no one else could have brought, an authenticity that in many scenes makes you forget you are watching Sarah Paulson, but rather a young Mildred Ratched, as those involved with this project have intended.
Now you might be asking, why on earth would I consider a show based on an emotionally sadistic nurse to be food for the soul when there are many other, more gentle alternatives. That’s a fair and very interesting thing to ask. I can only speak for myself, but I wouldn’t doubt if others felt the same. Some must have a similar process, considering the show is now the number one viewed show for Netflix at the moment.
While I do believe this show is strong enough to be considered top notch entertainment without the Pandemic and more people being at home to watch it, I do also think the Pandemic gave this series an extra push it otherwise might not have had. The push being a need for something cathartic given everything that’s going on in the world. Anyone who knows the character of Mildred Ratched, she is a person who needs to have everything in absolute perfect order, no matter who it might hurt. If there’s ever even the slightest hint of chaos bleeding into her world, she becomes aggressive, and puts a stop to it the way a warden will put a stop to chaos in prison cell block. That kind of need for control is something many of us in these current times crave so much, when everything else in the world is so out of control. The love for the darker things in life, a need for those darker tones that color this world, is something one could see as an emotional flu shot. This is also the reason there was a surge of viewings for the film “Contagion” when the virus going around went from just a virus, to the Global Pandemic we’re now living in. “Contagion” is a 2011 film about a respiratory virus that resembles COVID 19, how it spreads, and how it causes the world to stand still, just like we are doing right now. The interest in this film is that same emotional flu shot the show “Ratched” provides. Most of us don’t want to experience these are traumatic situations for real, but many love to read about them, hear songs about them, watch movies or TV shows about them. What this does for us is help us create a tougher skin, perhaps in case situations like this happen. Not desensitize us, but make us a little stronger, whether we realize that’s what’s happening or not. This kind of food for the soul is very potent, very strong, and while not meant for everyone, can provide a wellness that inspires the viewer to keep going and to keep surviving, even if the word seems to be taken over by this illness.
This is the first season. We can’t be sure if we’ll be given more seasons even the success of the first season, especially with the limitations brought on by the Pandemic. I think there’s still hope though. Other shows have been able to work around these limitations, so I don’t see why this series can’t flourish as well and continue to feed our souls with its succulent power.