How Ratched Missed the Point
Ryan Murphy and Sarah Paulson are horror television’s less-talented version of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. So when Netflix announced that Murphy would be creating a show centered on one of literature’s most vile villains, Nurse Mildred Ratched from the 1962 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, it was expected, yet still, a disappointment, to learn that Paulson would be attempting to embody the iconic character.
Despite it being authentic representation since Paulson herself is homosexual, the homosexualitization of Nurse Ratched feels like a vilification of lesbians and shows a deep lack of understanding of the character from everyone involved with the show.
In both the original novel and the more recognizable 1975 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, Nurse Ratched is presented as lacking a sexual orientation or possibly asexual because that is not a vital part of her character. She is the personification of the Big Brother mentality of someone always watching and controlling. One of her nicknames is “Big Nurse,” a direct call to the growing fear of an always watching Big Brother in America in the late 50s and early 60s. Nurse Ratched is everything that is wrong with the system, all the cogs that keep the oppressed on their knees.
She is and always will be a villain. That is the purpose of her character. No one should ever be identifying with this character and now thanks to Evan Romansky, the writer of the show along with Murphy and Paulson, she is being championed as LGBTQIA+ representation.
Bad representation is worse than no representation at all. If they had left Nurse Ratched as either lacking a sexual orientation or asexual it may have been a watchable piece of entertainment, but instead Ratched is fodder for homophobia. The community doesn’t need more voices connecting homosexuality with being evil.
When looking at decisions like this, it is good to ask why they were made because this character was not created for the show. She is an already established and fleshed out character thanks to Kesey, her creator. If he wanted her to be gay, he would have included that in his original novel. So, why did the creatives of this show decide to make Nurse Ratched gay? To make her more appealing as a character? To make her easier to sympathize with? To humanize her?
Nurse Ratched is not a character that the collective viewer of media needs to sympathize with, and it ultimately just reduces homosexuality to an interchangeable character trait. It is cheap writing and rather pathetic to see from a major studio like Netflix.
This is a selection of the Oct. 07 issue. To view the full issue, visit: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/44060/