A show about chess fit for a queen


Photo Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit show poster

Last week, if you would have told me that a show about chess would be entertaining, I would have laughed in disbelief. Netflix’s limited series The Queen’s Gambit was more than enough to change my mind.

Most popular television series these days focus on criminals, superheroes, kings, or other topics that have nothing to do with our everyday lives. For this reason, I was surprised to see such positive reviews on a series about chess.

The show begins in the mid-1950s with a young girl named Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) who becomes orphaned after her mother dies in a car accident. The orphanage that takes her in is de- pressing and they force-feed the children drugs. In order to deal with this atmosphere, Beth looks for something to raise her spirits. When she sees the janitor, Mr. Shaibel, playing chess, she is intrigued and eager to learn how to play.

Mr. Shaibel reluctantly teaches her to play and is soon fascinated by her abilities. As Beth grows up, she uses these abilities to dominate the competitive chess world, while also facing other challenges along the way.

The show does much more than highlighting the extraordinary talents of a young chess player. One of the more prominent themes that stick out is the empowerment of women. Beth is a young woman excelling at chess, which was said to be a “man’s game.” To the surprise of many of her opponents who underestimate her due to her gender, she dominates them in the game of chess.

Beth’s troubling childhood is also a recurring theme. Her childhood issues were deeper than just losing her mom, and as she gets older she often flashes back to bad memories from her early years.

The series also tackles substance abuse. As mentioned before, the orphanage force-feeds the children tranquilizers, ultimately leading to Beth depending on these drugs. As Beth progresses and her addiction becomes harder to manage, she must learn to overcome it.

Due to the troubling themes, the show requires a certain amount of maturity. The target audience is not young children; however, teenagers will find this show entertaining, and many teens will be able to relate to the challenges that Beth faces.

As of Nov. 14, the show is currently #1 on Netflix’s top ten trending list, and after finishing the series, I am not surprised that it is. I have practically no interest in the game of chess, yet this show was entertaining and my lack of chess knowledge had no negative effect on my perception of the series.

The miniseries consists of seven episodes, each around an hour long and it is unclear whether Netflix will release another season.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone age 14 or above, especially if you have even the slightest understanding of what chess is.