Netflix just dropped the final trailer for its upcoming series Ratched, from uber-producer Ryan Murphy. The show stars Murphy regular Sarah Paulson as Nurse Mildred Ratched, the infamous villain from the Ken Kesey novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and its iconic film adaptation. Paulson plays a younger version of the character in what purports to be an origin story revealing the reason for her cruelty, and honestly that’s kind of my problem with it.
Everything in the trailer looks exceptionally well-produced, with excellent production design that perfectly encapsulates its macabre setting of a brutal mental institution in the 1940s. The always-interesting Paulson displays a quiet, simmering rage and intensity that is truly unsettling, coupled with a misplaced sense of righteousness that will undoubtedly make for a fascinating character. The thing is, that character is not Nurse Ratched. (At least, not as she appears in this trailer.)
The entire point of Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was to represent the banality of evil. She wasn’t a calculating psychopath, she was a tin-pot-dictator whose cruelty was almost entirely bureaucratic. She’s an intentionally ordinary administrator who enjoys her small amount of power. Ratched appears to be recharacterizing her as a murderous supervillain more in line with Norman Bates or the Joker. But in fairness, I’m basing this entirely on what I’ve seen in the trailer, and her characterization in the actual series may be much different than what it seems. Check out the trailer below and judge for yourself. Ratched premieres on Netflix September 18.