If you are looking for a quick, compelling and engaging show to watch over this Thanksgiving break, The Queen’s Gambit is a perfect choice. The show follows a young woman who is orphaned around age 8, and finds her calling as a prodigy chess player. She also discovers her addiction to drugs and alcohol, and tries her hardest to become the best chess player in the world, while struggling with her addictions and other personal issues.
First of all, this show was so good that, after the first two episodes, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to finish the entire thing in one day. I was so impressed by main character Beth’s struggles of breaking into an almost entirely male game, and making waves in a way that no one expected. It was so exciting each time she won a game against an opponent who underestimated her skill, as almost all of her male competitors did. It was also a bit disheartening seeing the way some people treated her just because of her gender, and also how much the media focused on her gender as an important piece in her rise to fame. I thought the show did a really good job at showing the gender disparities during that time period, and the real issues she would have faced as a woman in the chess world.
Speaking of showing the time period, the integration of small details really helped immerse you in the 1950s and 1960s. I love how Beth has great fashion taste, and so we got to see so much of what the popular styles and dress was during that time. I especially appreciated that as she continued to compete and grow older, she slowly transitioned from long, ankle length dresses with frills and colors, to a more sleek look, including mostly pants and almost no skirts or dresses. This really helped to show both the passing of time and the emergence of some women’s freedoms, as well as Beth coming into her own personality and doing what she wanted.
It was also so inspiring, as it always is, to see someone go from having nothing to being internationally known and respected, as well as recognized for her incredible talent. I was riveted by her public face and her private one, in which she was a ruthless, confident talent to the world, and a lost, lonely drug addict when alone. There were several moments where we sort of saw this switch very quickly, and I applaud Anya Taylor-Joy for her talented acting in this difficult role.
I would recommend this show to anyone and everyone. I learned a lot more about chess than I will probably ever need to know, and the show was just the right amount of heart-wrenching, exciting, and interesting so that I couldn’t focus on anything else until I found out what happened to Beth and her chess career.