The limited series The Queen’s Gambit came out a couple of months ago on Netflix and absolutely blew my mind. If you haven’t watched the show, it’s about the life of a female chess prodigy. I am aware that if you don’t play chess, you may not feel intrigued by the idea of a show about one. I do play chess and the show was very enjoyable, but I also watched it with my mother, who knows absolutely nothing about chess and thoroughly enjoyed the show. So, even if you have never heard of chess in your life, I suggest giving it a try. If this isn’t convincing enough, I will walk you through some of the top reasons why I think this show is worth the watch (while leaving out the spoilers of course)!
One of the most captivating aspects of this show is the structure of how the story is told. Scott Frank, the director, would jump from scenes of Beth Harmon, the chess prodigy, with her mother when she was young, to her present life. Although the two are seemingly unrelated, the audience is able to make connections between Harmon’s youth and adulthood without being directly told, birthing a great storyline. Furthermore, the way the show progresses is very appealing to the audience because it involves competition and winning (which we all know is very pleasing to watch). If you’ve ever seen the show Glee, where each season was centered around semi-finals or finals, making the audience super eager to watch the characters compete, The Queen’s Gambit is a lot like that in the sense that it circles around different chess tournaments, building the audience’s anticipation. So, on top of this show being intellectually amazing, it’s also very binge-worthy; I had to pace myself because I didn’t want it to be over (I suggest you do the same).
Next, the acting and the portrayal of the characters is incredibly well-done. First of all, Beth Harmon is a very complex main character. Unlike most main characters, it isn’t always easy to root for Harmon. Although Beth has had a tough childhood and is an intelligent woman in a so-called man’s world, she can sometimes be a sore loser, which adds a lot of complexity and depth to her character, unlike a lot of other main characters. The directors of The Queen’s Gambit did a very good job in portraying Harmon as a human, as a troubled, fatally smart human. On top of the directing, Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress who plays Beth, carries out her character’s issues on an unimaginably precise level. Taylor-Joy has mastered these subtle facial expressions that tell the audience so much that you can almost tell if she’s about to win or lose a game just from the look in her eyes. Furthermore, the directors do a great job in developing Harmon’s character; over the course of just seven episodes, we see Harmon, as a person, age and mature greatly, and Taylor-Joy does an amazing job in showing that maturity throughout the episodes. Lastly, the character relationships are so nice to watch, especially Beth’s relationship with Jolene, a childhood friend, and her relationship with another character in the show (I won’t say what her relationship is to Beth in order to not spoil anything) named Alma Wheatley. The strong bonds in this show and the incredible acting make it hard to believe there are only seven episodes, making you want so much more.
As a final point, I will quickly discuss the show’s portrayal of the game of chess and the visuals that go with it. As a prodigy, Harmon’s mind is very complex, and although in the real world, we would never know what is going on inside her head, in The Queen’s Gambit they show the audience these surreal visuals either showing Harmon playing in her head (forming the chess pieces in her mind) or watching games play out (seeing all the possible moves play out on the chessboard). These techniques make the show all the more enjoyable and pretty trippy if you ask me. Additionally, the game of chess itself is not only portrayed as a tough and smart game, it’s also portrayed as a lifestyle and something that brings all kinds of people together, making the audience respect the game even more.
Watching this show is such a great experience and really leaves your heart full after each episode. I highly recommend sitting down and watching this show with friends or family and I guarantee that you’ll have a good time. I bet you’re pretty convinced now … checkmate!