At first glance, no one would’ve guessed The Queen’s Gambit to be Netflix’s No. 1 show in sixty-three countries and the most-watched “limited scripted series” ever. The Netflix miniseries from the creators Scott Frank and Allan Scott doesn’t contain components of a typical hit show. It is an adaptation of a 1983 novel written by Walter Tevis and is about Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphaned chess prodigy on her rise to the top of the chess world while struggling with drug alcohol dependency.
To many people’s surprise, the miniseries’s story is engaging even to those who know nothing about chess. Anyone who has undergone loss and rejection while fostering a passion will see a bit of themselves in Beth Harmon. Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Beth Harmon made brilliant use of her face and expressive eyes to convey the deliberation, triumph, and defeat she experienced, especially during her tournaments
When asked about what they thought the show would be about, my peers, Sarah Yaqoob and Raisa Rahman- who might I add Netflix fanatics- stated, “it hadn’t interested us in the least because we don’t know anything about chess.” After hearing a bit of a synopsis on the show, Sarah said, “Beth Harmon honestly seems like the type of character I would look up to as a kid. She appears confident and successful in a field that men dominated. She proved to much more than most thought she was capable of. Her story is inspiring.”
From the perspective of someone who does not know any chess pieces and the board game itself, I can confirm that the show was binge-worthy. Technical terms regarding chess are lacking, presumably, because they wanted to keep this show entertaining to people unfamiliar with the game. The Queen’s Gambit features a classic underdog story with a character of unbelievable talent.
Orphaned at age nine, Beth Harmon is admitted to the barren Methuen Home for Girls in Kentucky. Beth sneaks into a basement where she meets janitor Mr. Shaibel, who introduces her to chess. When she finally leaves the school, we see that chess motivates her, resulting in her success in the competitive chess world.
Over time, she grows competitive, traveling the country and world with her adoptive mother and enabler, Anna (Marielle Heller). Her obsession with chess is challenged by addiction to drugs and alcohol, which might ruin her chances of defeating her difficult opponent, the Russian champ Vasily Borgov (Marcin Dorocinski).
Overall, the show was an outstanding period piece. It was inspiring to see Beth Harmon, in the 1960s, take on conflicts in terms of gender acceptance. Something noteworthy is the show’s cinematography, which contributed to creating the refined feel of the show. The settings from New York to Berlin in the 1960s were almost rustic and fitting for the time period.
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