TV Show Review: ‘The Queen’s Gambit’

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Leila Touati

Anya Taylor-Joy takes control of the show as Beth Harmon in the popular Netflix miniseries.

The Premise

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is a Netflix miniseries based on the 1983 novel, The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. Directed by Scott Frank, the plot follows an orphan girl, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), who quickly becomes a chess-prodigy, and her journey to becoming the world’s best chess player while struggling with addiction.

Some Positives

What I enjoyed about ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ was how we see a glimpse of Harmon’s future: a scene full of fame, location, and all eyes on her. We then get reeled back and the story begins, with young Harmon entering an orphanage. 

Anya Taylor-Joy perfectly portrays the main protagonist later in the series, as Isla Johnston plays young Beth Harmon in the beginning. 

The beauty of the 1950s and early 60s era was in the clothing and production design for the show. We see Harmon sporting intricate dresses, hairdos, and household items that perfectly match the time period. 

Female Empowerment

‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is one of those shows that is focused on female empowerment, or in simpler terms, girl power. Shows like ‘Anne with an E,’ ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘The Crown,’ and ‘New Girl’ all have powerful female leads, and the same goes for ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. 

We soon find out in the show that Beth Harmon is a force to be reckoned with both in the game of chess and with everything that she does. In a male-dominated game, Harmon gives insight of what it was like to be not only a woman playing chess, but as a woman in the 20th century. Harmon is constantly underestimated by men in her abilities as a chess player and continues to prove them wrong by winning and outsmarting some of the best players. 

Enjoying and Learning Chess

What is enthralling about this miniseries is how it makes chess seem, well, exciting. I found that the chess tournaments and matches were what I was looking forward to the most in an episode, and I couldn’t stop rewatching the big tournaments. Of course, the series didn’t immediately make me want to go sign up for the nearest chess tournament, but it made me gain an understanding and acknowledgement of how serious the game is. 

 

Watch ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ on Netflix now!

 

Beneath the Surface: The Queen’s Gambit’s Historical Background

Produced by Renna Popli

Music: Hot Box by Ketsa from Free Music Archive (CC by NC-ND)