When The Queen’s Gambit dropped on Netflix, everybody was wondering about the queen gambit real story and nobody had any idea about the impact it would create and its many reasons. But in only a matter of a few weeks, the show cemented its position alongside Normal People and Unorthodox, becoming one of the best new series of 2020.
The premise of the show seemed interesting at first read: a young orphaned chess prodigy becomes an addict and battles substance abuse while competing to become the best chess player in the world. Despite winning the hearts of the critics in the first few days, the series would actually be called a sleeper’s hit.
The show is comprised of seven episodes and every episode is a fascinating watch! It gradually grips you and gives insight into the mysterious world of chess. The show brilliantly captures the lives of women in the 60s – from their silent ambition to beautifully designed clothes and antics.
This was the intriguing factor, because so far, TV and films have failed to combat the level of the predictability that is found in independent and strong female characters. Usually, there has to be some kind of trauma involved for the woman to realize that she’s been wronged and that she must seek revenge or justice.
In one way or another, the man has to do something terribly wrong – like, leaving after impregnating her or sexually abusing her in her childhood – to make the woman look strong. This feeling of being wronged serves as the motivation and this erroneous mentality is embedded in our culture to the extent that it becomes formulaic.
This is exactly what we expected from The Queen’s Gambit, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that its storyline is not predictable at all.
The show is based on a novel written by Walter Tevis and it has Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd in the cast among others. Anya-Taylor is the protagonist whose blood mother commits suicide and her father abandons her, as a result of which she lands up in an orphanage and befriends Jolene. Here she also stumbles upon a janitor who eventually becomes her mentor. He teaches her how to play chess and becomes the man behind her success.
The brilliance of the show is its master ability to transport us back to the 60s when drug consumption and fashion went hand-in-hand. The era was of flamboyance and drama, which this series blended with chess and passion. It honestly made chess look sexy. The pace of the show was such that it deserved to be savored rather than binged overnight.
Taylor-Joy plays the role of Beth Harmon to absolute perfection: her big eyes and statement hair-style were only the cherries on top. She has an extraordinary spark that is undeniable. The supporting cast understood the grit and blended perfectly in Harmon’s world.
If we think about it, chess was the upper layer of the show. Think of it like an onion: the innermost layers of the show contained themes like repression and internalization. It speaks to us on a human level even today. The women of that era repressed their emotions, be it, passion, lust, hysteria, ambition, and even anger. They had succumbed to the idea of a perfect housewife, and even a slight deviation from that thought frightened them, as it was not the norm. Hence, the fear of judgment and defiance got repressed and transformed into addiction and passive-aggressiveness.
This is when the role of tranquillizers comes to play: it was this drug that was used to quiet the aspirations, dreams, and ambition of women. Although it was specifically designed for housewives who were experiencing “hysteria”, it became popular in orphanages, too.
It was used to control children so that they don’t become too emotional due to the trauma they’ve been through. And that’s how Beth had her first episode of addiction, as a nine-year-old, when a child doesn’t even know what addiction is. She, however, consumed tranquillizers, as they helped her imagine the game.
As she grows older, her mannerisms and choreography of the match become more and more complex. However, the attendees would always be astonished and leave the game mesmerized by her achievement that she earned so effortlessly. And that is exactly what we, as viewers, felt: inspired.
Music on the show is used to reflect back the mood of the society at that time. It added to the swag that Beth so graciously carried. At first, the tunes would seem simple, but with every passing episode, they became more structured and aggressive.
Beth, at first, might seem arrogant and unemotional. However, the truth is that she showed a variety of emotions. She was confident of her abilities, but she also had the drive to improve. She would show happiness after winning a match and anger at defeat. She would also be seen ridiculing her opponents after she’d outperform them. Her smugness, however, never turned into complacency. You could describe her lust for victory as deadly accurate and measured.
And never even once in the show does she compromise her ambitions to fit into a man’s world.In fact, she didn’t even believe that it was a man’s world. She never bothered to see what the gender or age of her opponent was. She soon became the grandmaster she had always imagined herself to be.
Normally, the trend is to show men as evil who plot against women and maintain the crown. However, this show was different: Beth didn’t become resentful because a man outperforms her; the defeat fuels her with the urge to pull off her best game and improve. She wasn’t sitting around patiently to be treated as an equal; she knew and acted as if she already was. And men, on the other hand, treat her as the same.
And that is exactly why you must watch this impeccable series: for the way it has portrayed grit and passion regardless of gender.