Nurses vs. Netflix: Protests over Ryan Murphy’s “Ratched”

For immediate release
September 15, 2017
Sandy Summers
410-323-1100 office
443-253-3738 cell

Note: As of January 18, 2019, our new petition is located at:

Hundreds of nurses have signed a petition urging television producer Ryan Murphy and Netflix to abandon recently announced plans to revive the notorious Nurse Ratched character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for a two-season series on her origin.

“Ratched is the archetype of the enduring battle-axe stereotype, the idea that female nurses in authority are repressed maternal tyrants bent on torturing patients,” said Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH, executive director of The Truth About Nursing, the petition sponsor. “We understand that Murphy and company likely plan to have some nasty fun showing how Ratched got that way. But we can’t see how a product bearing any resemblance to the original could avoid reinforcing its misogynist themes.”

Murphy and Netflix have not responded to the “Ratched” petition. Netflix has announced that longtime Murphy collaborator Sarah Paulson will play the show’s title character, and that among the show’s producers is Michael Douglas, a producer of the original Cuckoo’s Nest film.

The Truth About Nursing argues that a key cause of the global nursing shortage is lack of real respect for nurses, who it stresses are college-educated, life-saving health professionals of any gender. “When the public continues to see nurses in terms of the same tired stereotypes, it undermines the sense of them as serious professionals,” Summers explained. “That in turn makes it harder for nurses to get the resources they need in these difficult times. Research shows that the rampant understaffing of nurses increases patient mortality.”

The petition, which now has about 500 signatures, urges that “Ratched” be withdrawn or, if it does go forward, that the creators at least include some nuance in the show’s nurse characters.

“We suggest that Netflix make a different series to give a full sense of what modern nurses do,” Summers said. “And really, it’s a bit more than torturing and killing patients,” she added, referring to a 10-episode U.K. documentary the streaming service recently made available called “Nurses Who Kill.”

The Truth About Nursing is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization based in Baltimore that seeks to increase public understanding of the central, front-line role nurses play in modern health care. The focus of the Truth is to promote more accurate, balanced and frequent media portrayals of nurses and increase the media’s use of nurses as expert sources.

See the Truth About Nursing’s about us pages.

For more information, please contact:

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
cell 1-443-253-3738

Go to The Truth About Nursing’s main page

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