Ryan Murphy’s new “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” prequel, “Ratched,” finally dropped today on Netflix. The highly-anticipated origin story takes a look at the early career of infamous villain Nurse Mildred Ratched (played by a deliciously vicious Sarah Paulson) as she perfects her special brand of patient care and lobotomy skills at the fictional Lucia State Hospital. Though it is getting slammed by critics (Mashable calls it “the worst season of ‘American Horror Story,’” while Variety deems it “inscrutable” and “gratuitously unpleasant”), the show is not a total waste. Set in Monterey County in 1947, “Ratched” has all of the engaging markings typically employed by Murphy — vivid set design, dramatic cinematography, general campiness, and locations that, no matter how macabre, draw you right in.
Shot in both Northern and Southern California, Lucia State Hospital is actually an amalgamation of three different Los Angeles spots, namely King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas, which was used for all of its exterior shots.
Tucked away on 588 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains, the ranch was initially built as a private home for King Camp Gillette (his real name). Yes, that Gillette, as in “the best a man can get,” the guy responsible for inventing and mass-marketing the world’s first disposable safety razor. In 1926, the wealthy entrepreneur and his wife, Atlanta Ella Gaines, purchased a hilly plot (then measuring “only” 360 acres) at the edge of Las Virgenes Valley and commissioned architect-to-the-stars Wallace Neff to build them a luxury retirement home. Today, the property is a designated part of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and often used as a filming location, perhaps best known for its appearance as “The Biggest Loser” Ranch, though it has been featured in scores of other productions. As such, I immediately recognized it when it popped up on “Ratched.”
Click on the Gallery link to read more about King Gillette Ranch from “Ratched.”