Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon play 1940s lesbians in Netflix’s Ratched

netflix ratched cynthia nixon sarah paulson
Photo: Netflix

Sarah Paulson gives new life to an iconic screen character who navigates a 1940s lesbian affair in Netflix series Ratched.

The Ryan Murphy series, which has drawn comparison with his American Horror Story, tells the origin story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest nurse Mildred Ratched.

Mildred was the cruel and scheming antagonist from the 1962 novel and its classic 1975 film adaptation.

Ratched begins earlier, in 1947. Mildred has returned from WWII for a job at a leading California psychiatric hospital.

At the hospital, doctors conduct disturbing experiments on their patients’ minds. They attempt to “reverse” conditions ranging from mania to lesbianism.

“Mildred presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be,” the synopsis reads.

“[But] as she begins to infiltrate the mental health care system and those within it, Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness long smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born.”

Actress Cynthia Nixon plays Gwendolyn Briggs, the California governor’s dapper press secretary. After meeting Mildred, she’s drawn to her immediately.

‘Ratched’ restores queer people ‘back into history’

Speaking to GLAAD, Paulson applauded producer Ryan Murphy for casting her and Nixon in the two roles.

“He was very invested in Cynthia and I doing this together. Having two queer women playing two queer women,” she said.

“The power of that just from a snapshot image of the two of us doing this was something I think was very, very important to him.”

Nixon added Murphy “brilliantly” manages to add LGBTIQ people “back into history” through his fictional series.

“He takes different periods in which there were people of color and there were queer people, but we’ve been erased from the narrative,” she said.

“We’re not in the movies of the ‘40s and ‘50s.

“To have Ryan go back and look at this period and reinsert us into the history that we’ve been erased from and shine a spotlight on all the many trials and tribulations and obstacles and persecutions that we underwent is really, really important and really overdue.”

Meanwhile, Murphy describes Paulson and Nixon as “simply luminescent when they share a scene.”

“Get ready for the romance YOU DESERVE,” he tweeted.

Also in the Ratched cast is Australia’s Judy Davis, Sharon Stone, Finn Wittrock, Charlie Carver, Vincent D’Onofrio and Brandon Flynn.

Ratched arrives on Netflix this week.

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