Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon Open up About What It Means to Them to Portray Queer Women in ‘Ratched’

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Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix suspenseful drama series Ratched will premiere September 18, and there is a specific reason for the casting of Sarah Paulson and Cynthia Nixon.

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The new Netflix show acts as the prequel to Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Taking place in 1947, Mildred Ratched (Paulson), the eerie antagonist, starts as a new nurse at a leading psychiatric hospital. She eventually crosses paths with Gwendolyn Briggs (Nixon), a politician, and future love interest.

In a recent zoom interview with GLAAD, Paulson and Nixon opened up about portraying two queer women onscreen.

When asked how it felt to represent a queer woman in a time when being gay or lesbian was thought to be a “curable disease,” Paulson responded by saying there are still places in the world where people have this view. She explains how going back in history in this form of media is crucial to learn from our mistakes.

Paulson emphasizes on how Murphy, and herself, were invested in having “two queer women, playing two queer women.” She stresses the importance of this decision as a way to enforce inclusivity and progress in the industry.

To follow what Paulson expressed, Nixon says, “to have Ryan go back and look at this period and reinsert us into the history that we’ve been erased from… is really important and really overdue.” She explains how the media never represented people of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color in the 1940s. Although she acknowledges Mrs. Danvers from the movie Rebecca and how gay characters may be represented, but are often there as comic relief. Nixon expresses how these characters are not the best role models on television.

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Sharon Stone also joined the women during the interview and touched on the importance of mental health. As the show centers on mental health, Stone expresses how mental health “is as important as any other aspect of our health.” After experiencing a brain injury back in 2001, Stone admits how we know very little on the brain. She encourages people not to neglect their mental health and educate themselves on the subject.

Stone ends the interview by saying she is proud of working with Paulson and Nixon. She described the experience as an “overall wonder” to be in such a different set than on the ones she grew up.

Murphy’s Ratched is an inevitable step into the future of necessary representation in the media industry. Promoting inclusivity and casting queer actors to queer characters is an important way to make an impact on and for future generations.