‘The Queen’s Gambit’ offers satisfying plot while inspiring female chess players

Annabella Bhote

“The Queen’s Gambit,” one of the top two most watched original Netflix series as reported by the streaming platform, is set around a young orphan named Beth Harmon played by Anya Taylor-Joy, who learns the game of chess and eventually competes in tournaments after being adopted in the 1950’s-1960’s, at the height of the Cold War. 

I recommend this series to all and viewers of all genders and ages appropriate for its subject matter, as the show is rated TV-MA. If you have a Netflix subscription, “The Queen’s Gambit” should be at the top of your list.

The miniseries is seven episodes long containing an extremely satisfying plot that is worth the watch. As short as the series is, one cannot deny the captivating cinematography as it portrays chess as a dynamic, daunting game for anyone watching. The show is quickly becoming known for “inspiring women to take up chess,” according to the New York Times.

In the first episode, viewers get an inside look into this character’s childhood at the orphanage she resided in until she was 15 years old. Due to the strong tranquilizers given to children at the facility, Beth develops an addiction at a very young age. 

This is where she meets Mr. Shaibel, a stand-offish, lonely janitor who introduces her to the game of chess and teaches Beth everything he knows after learning of her genius. Becoming enamored with chess, Beth began to use her tranquilizers to play out various matches in her mind. 

After many years, she is adopted by a couple from Ohio with a tumultuous relationship, resulting in the father abandoning the family shortly after Beth first arrives at their home. Nevertheless, she creates an intricate bond with her adoptive mother while they travel the country entering chess tournaments, nearly winning every match she played. 

After a particular loss or mistake, Beth created the habit of teaming up with former opponents and learning to play from their perspectives, as she only had one teacher in her early years. This particularly helped her broaden her horizons when it came to her prodigy. 

Taylor-Joy’s multifaceted performance as Beth is the main draw of the series. Her portrayal of addiction, as well as her capacity for emotion, evokes the viewer to root for her character in all of her trials and tribulations. The actress speaks about this subject herself in an interview for The Observer, noting that female addicts, especially half a century ago, were not given the same attention as males. “I’m glad Beth’s addiction shows it’s a problem for everybody. Just because you’re a boy doesn’t make it sexy. It’s still a problem.” 

Other fan favorite cast members  include Harry Potter’s Harry Melling and “The Maze Runner’s”  Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who play Beth’s competitors and eventual love interests.