In late October, Netflix released its new miniseries, The Queen’s Gambit. A riveting drama that follows the rise of chess prodigy Beth Harmon (portrayed by Anna Taylor Joy), the show is set in the 1960s as Harmon battles her inner demons that stem from the trauma of her mother’s death from an accident. As she grows up in an orphanage, she learns chess from a janitor who happens to be a chess enthusiast keen on teaching her as he learns of her ability to be a skilled player. Thus begins her journey with chess.
The plot of The Queen’s Gambit is very engrossing and coherent. As it progresses, it magnificently weaves characters from various phases of Harmon’s life as she battles addiction, loneliness and insecurities with great passion and perseverance. Anna Taylor Joy’s portrayal of the protagonist is a marvel to watch. Creators Frank and Allan Scott have done a great job weaving Harmon’s story as she makes her way to the most coveted tournaments.
Under Scott Frank’s direction, the show has achieved some great frames with its stunning portrayal of the 50s and 60s. The aesthetic seems spot on and is visually very appealing.
For chess aficionados, the show can be a marvel to watch. The show was received well for accurately portraying chess moves as well. Even if you are not familiar with the most basic chess rules, there is no instance where the discussing of strategies and the analyzing of the chess boards will bore you. Instead, it allows you a look at the work that has gone in the making of the adept chess players that the characters are. Get used to the rush every time you hear about the sicilian opening!
Another highly commendable aspect of the show is its impeccable soundtrack. The songs go very well with the scenes, be it pensive, melancholic or rebellious. Most of these songs are soul and rock music from the 60s and are just perfect in the context they are used.
The entire cast does a brilliant job of elaborating on the several tropes explored in the show. Even with so many complex storylines, it is interesting how chess always alludes to one way or the other. It’s simply brilliant writing and proficient execution. All in all The Queen’s Gambit is a must-watch.