The Queen’s Gambit Review
By Kayla Wong
I watched The Queen’s Gambit and now I think chess is interesting, well-edited scenes from chess games made for television that is.
The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix limited series based on the novel with the same name by Walter Tevis. The show follows the journey of chess prodigy Beth Harmon, who also happens to be an orphan who struggles with addiction.
This show came highly recommended to me by friends, classmates, and even my Acting teacher from school. They all insisted that I would love this show as someone who appreciates the art of film- and television-making, and I do love this show. The aesthetics, cinematography, music, acting, and subject matter are simply exquisite.
One of my favorite things about this show is the feminist themes within it without centering the entire story around Beth being a young woman being financially independent in a male dominant sport. The show places more focus toward Beth’s character through her struggles with addiction and her relationships with others. Attention is called to her gender, as it should, but the writers did a really good job of making it apparent but not forced. Beth’s gender is only explicitly talked about in places where it makes sense like in her interviews with different magazines but the scenes where she is unapologetically feminine amongst large groups of male chess players makes a much greater impact on the viewer than having to spell it out.
Before I watched this show, I was really worried that the chess playing scenes would be boring but after watching, those are the very scenes which solidified my love for this show. The wide variety of shots used and the energizing music used in these moments made them feel intense and compelling. I won’t spoil anything from it, but the sequence of the main tournament in episode five has impeccable editing which has made it my favorite part of the entire series. Every second of this show is beautifully crafted and entertaining to watch.
Prior to writing this review, I was curious to see what other critics were saying about this show. One thing that stuck out ot me was the criticism of the storyline of the show being too predictable or wrapped up too nicely. Though it is a valid point, one thing audiences must understand going into this show is that it is based off of a novel, it’s fiction. The world this show is set in is already not hyper-realistic because it is one where the main character gets away with way more than a real person would and that is okay. Beth Harmon has a story which makes the viewer feel kind of safe in its predictability. The first episode sets this tone when we watch Beth as a young girl live in an orphanage, go down to the dark and quiet basement where a older male janitor and his chess board become this girl’s safe space. Beth is a character who is has her ups and downs but is so watchable because she always bounces back. In a time where most people are stuck at home feeling like the world is unpredictable, The Queen’s Gambit provides an alternative one which one can appreciate the slight predictability along with the surprisingly high stakes world of competitive chess.
The Queen’s Gambit is a must-watch show on Netflix.