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Sophie Okonedo successfully tackles mental illness in Netflix’s ‘Ratched’

by Merecedes J. Williams
For New Pittsburgh Courier

Typically, when Netflix audiences flock to social media with recommendations, I am skeptical, if not apprehensive, to tune in. But the memes and Facebook statuses twisted my arm into watching Netflix’s newest series, “Ratched.”

After all the posts I stumbled across, I was interested in one particular person, Sophie Okonedo.

The 52-year-old actress plays a patient, Charlotte Wells, who is suffering from multiple personality disorder. Based on Nurse Ratched in Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Ratched” follows a wacked-out nurse (Sarah Paulson) who terrorizes a California psychiatric hospital in hopes to set her serial-killer brother free.

SOPHIE OKONEDO

SOPHIE OKONEDO

The Netflix show also stars Finn Wittrock, Sharon Stone, Cynthia Nixon and Judy Davis.

This eight-part adaptation, which is set in 1947, is oddly wonderful. The familiar faces of American Horror Story, gruesome storylines, and quirky punchlines are a wonderful potion to great TV. But Sophie Okonedo steals the show.

Her raw talent is actually what saves the entire series for me because when “Ratched” gets slow she picks it up. When “Ratched” gets redundant and starts to look like every other season of American Horror Story, Okonedo pulls up with the craziest (no pun intended) monologue I have ever heard on a Netflix series.

She does not have much screen time and we are not introduced to her until the fifth episode, but it is just enough for her to capture audiences with her conviction and aptitude.

She is better than James McAvoy in Split (2016) and Glass (2019). She passed the “Acting with Multiple Personalities Disorder” test with flying colors. Since we are talking about how social media fads completely take over the world, let me add my two cents—it’s her range and commitment for me.

“Ratched” is aight, filled with all of its horror and glory, and then, boom, Okonedo comes in during the fourth quarter for the win. Sophia Okonedo is simply splendid.

On a more serious note, mental health is real. Practice self-care. Exercise. Rest. Do all the things you love to relieve stress, improve your mood, and maintain a healthy state of mind. Most importantly, get a therapist (I have an appointment this week). Talk to someone. This global pandemic has shaken the mind, body, and soul, shattering the physical body as well as intensifying the condition of mental health.

Taraji P. Henson and associate Tracie Jade Jenkins started the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018, where they provide resources for African Americans who suffer from mental illness. The foundation, named after Henson’s father who battled with mental illness after the Vietnam War, offers free virtual therapy and support for African American men. For more information, please visit: https://borislhensonfoundation.org/blhf-virtual-therapy/

SOPHIE OKONEDO plays Charlotte Wells in Netflix’s new series, “Ratched.”

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