The Queens Gambit Review

Leyden Streed, Copy Editor

If you’ve been looking for a show you can binge on Netflix that serves as both a coming of age story and a thought-provoking analysis of the price of genius, look no further. The Queen’s Gambit, released into Netflix on October 23, has quickly risen in popularity over quarantine and is currently in the top 10 shows recommended by Netflix. 

The limited series, based on the novel written by Walter Tevis, is a riveting story that follows the life of an orphan, Beth, as she becomes a chess prodigy. Beth is an intense, dedicated chess player who is always determined to win. The most interesting aspect of this storyline is Beth’s addiction, originally to tranquilizer pills given to her at the orphanage, later to alcohol. As her addiction starts to interfere with her competitions, the line between genius and madness begins to blur. Beth has to come to terms with this aspect of her life and decides what path she wants to take and which path will lead her to becoming a world class chess champion.

The story is set in the 1960s, a time when opportunities for women were limited, and the expectation was to stay at home. Beth’s character finds herself in an environment with even more limited opportunities for women, the world of chess, a clearly male-dominated sport at the time. Beth approaches this environment with complete confidence and certainty in her abilities. It is refreshing to see a female protagonist that is able to defy stereotypes and have a much more complex character development than is often seen by women in film. 

“I think it’s really important for there to be more female protagonists. It shows little girls that they can be whoever they want to be and especially in this case show that a girl can survive and be successful in a male dominated environment,” said Christina Anderson ‘21. 

This 1960s setting also allows for creativity for the producers when it comes to sets and props. Most of the sets featured in the series are various hotels around the world where Beth competes. These sets play with light and color, bringing excitement to every location to which Beth travels. 

The costumes featured in this series have been receiving attention for the way they stick to the time period, while still accurately portraying the character’s confidence and maturity. In a coming of age story like this one, it is very important that viewers are able to visualize Beth’s process of going from a young and desperate child prodigy to a confident world-class chess player. This can be seen in what Beth wears, as it reflects her progress.

“I saw something somewhere about the reasoning behind Beth’s clothes, and it was really interesting how the patterns and colors of her dress were meant to portray confidence or her psychological turmoil,” said Anderson.

A common misconception of this show is that people who don’t know anything about chess will not find it enjoyable, as they cannot relate. Thanks to the director Scott Frank and the talented actors, viewers with any amount of chess knowledge can fully enjoy this story. The chess scenes cut back and forth between the moves being played and the actors, portraying the focus and rapid analysis that goes through a player’s mind. No matter what background viewers have, this show will keep them on the edge of your seat, eager to keep watching.