Ratchet is a Horny Show (a Review)

Ryan Murphy is one of those creators that everyone seems to know, and is hyper-successful despite his mostly hit and miss nature. I assume all this based on reputation, looking over everything he has done I haven’t actually seen any of his series (I saw Nip/Tuck when I was too young, and I can’t say much more without utterly embracing myself and giving far too much TMI). He seems to be incredibly versatile which allows him to tackle multiple genres. Makes it surprising Netflix hasn’t gone to him early for a series (he also did that Hollywood show that came out this year). Odder still that they give him is a “slow-burn” prequel series about one character in a well known movie/book from decades ago.

Following the titular Nurse Mildred Ratchet, the story finds her years before whatever she’s doing in One Flew Over the Cucuoos Nest, inserting herself into a progressive mental health facility when she finds her brother sentenced their for evaluation after having killed four priests. Once inside she seeks to manipulate, undermine, and play everyone in order to save her brother, Edmund Tolleson, from the electric chair. All the while politicians, rich debutants, and private eyes all seek their own goals from within and outside the facility.

We will get to the title of this post later. For, even as that isn’t an obvious description of the show, it is obvious the amount of production and style the series has. It oozes that 1940s aesthetic its living in. It also goes further than just set design, but to have scenes and shots reminiscent of the crime stories that it’s pulling from for inspiration. This gives it a unique and incredibly colorful style that does often stumble accidentally into either absolute cartoonishness or flat melodrama.

The stumble into melodrama and cartoonish logic pervades every other aspect of that series in ways that are impossible to tell if they were done purposefully or not. A great example is the acting. Most of the acting is solid enough. Heck it is even moving from time to time. Other moments, even whole scenes, feel to be from a totally different show. Even some characters, like a drunken motel owner, the revenge filled countess with a limbless son, said limbless son, or Vincent D’Onofrio as the mayor of California don’t seem to line up with what so much of the show is trying to do. They feel far too exaggerated for the often grounded feel the show is going for. It is totally uneven.

That uneven feel goes into the story and pacing. On one hand the closer to episodic story that drives a large narrative feels refreshing. Every episode is able to feel both distinct while telling a story. It’s the execution that’s lacking. That lacking coming from an abrupt change in story halfway through that shakes up the planned status quo, but the writers then seem to be unsure of where to go. Ratchet’s plan goes out the window (or front door), but then seems to change in a way that I am not sure the season realizes. This goes for many characters. The head doctor at the hospital, head nurse, aid to the governor, and more all seem to change motivation and ideas without that being conveyed well. It leads to arguments where I am unsure whose side I’m supposed to be on or what the point is. This also leads to characters writing off others intentions with ease for no real well described reason. This works better for some than other. The dutchess and son, work for create comedic comeuppance, but for the head doctor… it’s complicated.

Most of the series takes place and centers around a cutting edge psychiatric facility. This gives the writers time to show how old times cures were obviously ineffective. Like boiling lesbians (I’m sure there is a joke in there), or ice-pick lobotomies. It seems to be setting up that the doctor is incompetent and a blatant fraud, and to an extent the show is kind of right. The issue is how they also paint him as an altruistic, but flawed figure. On one hand noble, but other is greatly, greatly misinformed. An apt comparison to the handling of mental illness. I am not a mental health expert or played one on TV but even I can see the harm this show does. Though not all or even most patients are shown to be monsters, the two main antagonists end up being psychiatric people who need help. The series plays into that idea of damaged people being crazy and violent. It makes the end of the season really off putting.

That isn’t the only thing that makes it off putting. I am not familiar with the story this is a prequel to, I would even say most people watching this won’t be, that makes the seasons ending all the stranger. It ends with Mildred Ratchet on a mission. Maybe that mission is the One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest. I don’t know, but the way the show ends it doesn’t feel like it. Instead it makes her a vigilante going after a criminal hunting her. A move to clearly get more seasons than tell a story.

That story… Yeah, we’re finally circling back to that title. I am a sex positive person (my autocorrect completed that to police person which is weird and I hope doesn’t say anything about me). Sex is a good thing to explore and not keep in the bedroom (just be mindful of others). This is why I love Sex Education as a show so much. But when I say this show is horny… it’s horny. So much of the plotting would work if the world was populated by 20 somethings playing teenagers because they all seem to focus around sex. Who is having it, who isn’t, and who is having it with who are all the driving factors for the first half or more of the season. It is honestly shocking just how sexual it is. That might be why the show is so lopsided, all the story blood is rushing to the wrong muscles. I almost respect it for this if it wasn’t also trying to have a commentary on how psychiatric patients and criminal justice system is treated.

Much of this shows debate is on if it is good or not. I am not one to get into said debate because I honestly don’t care. I think it is too cartoonishly weird to be called simply bad. That might not be what someone wants in a show that’s marketed as a deep psychological thriller, and I don’t want that either to be clear; but for the one half noir story, one half heightened cartoonish drug trip, and (looking up average penis length) sized high school sex story it is kind of everything someone could want. Maybe. Possibly. It’s just so weird.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: https://ebay.com/usr/connorfahy1013 say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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2 thoughts on “Ratchet is a Horny Show (a Review)”

  1. I’m not a big fan of Sarah Paulson. She’s always the reason (out of many) why I can’t get into AHS. Sometimes I think some shows are to HBOish in being more porn than sexual education. Do you feel like it crosses that line?

    Like

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