I never would have guessed that a miniseries about chess would have captivated me as much as it did. Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit is receiving a lot of praise by critics, Hollywood personalities, and viewers at home. Rightfully so. This show premiered on the streaming service on October 23rd and was such an interesting watch that I breezed through seven episodes in one day. Anya Taylor-Joy plays the main character Beth Harmon who is determined, talented, flawed, and one of the best series leads I’ve ever seen.
Beth Harmon’s story begins tragically, after the death of her mother leaves her with no one and sends her to an orphanage for girls. Unsocial and closed off, Beth finds solace in learning chess from the orphanage’s custodian. This is the start of Beth’s journey. Not only is she finding meaning after losing everything, but Beth is also going in a direction not many women did in the 50s and 60s. While The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is far more comedic than The Queen’s Gambit, the two reminded me of each other. Both following a woman excelling in a male-dominated arena and earning the respect of others along the way. Beth is too damn good at what she does to be put down by anyone for any gender-related stigmas.
Though Beth has competition, she’s her own worst enemy in many ways. A perfectionist to the tee, she takes losing very badly. It’s clear that chess has not only become a passion, but a distraction for all of the loss she’s experienced. When she’s not winning, she’s wondering who is she really? Even though we cheer Beth on and become captured by the chess game, she’s far from perfect. Taylor-Joy plays this flawed character perfectly.
The Queen’s Gambit knew when to reward the audience, but also knew when to bring everything crashing down. The storyline was a beautiful orchestra that either could make you smile or make you want to cry. There were some woven in factors to the storyline which you’d never expect to find there. Each person Beth encountered in her life added something of value – some lesson that she’d use to make her a better player. There were some really marvelous people in Beth’s life, some who she even took for granted. But, all who were important.
The show also did really well in building up to the final chess game. Beth vs the fearsome Vasily Borgov, who was such a great chess player – it was well-known by any other great player that you’d probably lose to him. The ending was also marvelous and a great payoff for those who were enthralled in the story. I really cannot recommend The Queen’s Gambit enough. I don’t know if there’s a second season – I almost don’t want there to be. This was a perfect story that said what it needed to and it can exist in the perfect bubble it deserves to.
Have you watched The Queen’s Gambit? What were your thoughts on this miniseries?
A girl with too many fandoms to count.