Netflix’s stunning new mini series: Queen’s Gambit


Netflix strikes yet again, with a masterful and beautiful mini series in “Queens Gambit.” At the base level, this is a seemingly simple story of an orphan-turned chess prodigy, but as the story progresses and moves through the protagonist’s life, the genre of the series evolves just like the character’s life. And ultimately, this results in a coming of age story for the ages. 

The series starts with our protagonist Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Harmon, played by Anya Taylor‑Joy, rising from a tub, in a frantic state, with a host of substances around. Establishing from the start that there is something very wrong. Shortly thereafter, the audience is taken full force into all the trauma that has haunted Beth well into her adult life. 

Beth from the start is marred by tragedy and in turn, suffers from self-destructive tendencies. This damaged theme recurs throughout the series, as Beth becomes more and more isolated and even when surrounded by people who generally care or admire her. This results in a rather disconnected or detached feel when it comes to Beth and her relationship with the outside world.

Although it’s definitely a rather cliche opening episode, it still somehow manages to enthrall the audience in the series as you want to see how this trauma begins to develop her into the chess master that she is, and ultimately you can’t help but root for her, as she has come from the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak.

This also creates a correlation to Beth’s substance abuse which is also exhibited from a young age. As after Beth’s mother dies, Beth is quickly taken to an orphanage in Kentucky, where during the 1960’s it wasn’t all that uncommon for these institutions to give children tranquilizers to make them more manageable. Shortly thereafter Beth begins taking these “vitamins,” she quickly takes a liking to them. After being instructed by an older black orphan named Jolene, who soon becomes her first real friend, to save them for bedtime, her descent into an addict begins.

From my perspective, I actually wanted to applaud the writers of this show for including little bits of information like this. As many people who aren’t really acquainted with America’s history probably had no idea about all the inhumane things that were done to children back in those days. Therefore, including all these little facts about misconduct in orphanages is incredibly important to the story as it makes it much more believable while also exposing people to the injustices that were happening not too long ago. 

Early on, the show establishes another major theme: the long, hard, and sometimes lonely process of finding independence. Also creating a lasting ironic effect, as a grandmaster chess player, one would think someone who is adept at solving puzzles and problems, yet still struggles to find the answers to her own trials and tribulations like everyone else in life. 

For such a rather timid, repetitive, oftentimes exciting existence, there’s actually deep tragedy hidden behind this. When Beth takes up drinking like her mother, though she seems happy to experience this life,  it’s obvious that there’s still something deep down that is causing them pain, and they drown their sorrows with drugs and alcohol in order to keep them moving along. 

This isn’t stressed enough in my opinion When you sit down and watch the series as a whole, you never really see Beth falter or break down as one would expect her to. Therefore, when you see her live her life through these vices with seemingly no regrets, her pain just doesn’t resonate with the audience nearly as much. 

Finally, the thing that really ties this story is Beth’s style. The clothes she wears are downright gorgeous and are very classical and timeless. They reek of 1960’s lavish wear and craftsmanship and also show the growth of Beth overtime. From her time at an orphanage to growing up in her adopted parent’s home, Beth was never given an opportunity to express herself in the form of clothing, so when the money starts coming in from these chess matches, she shows out. 

No matter the occasion she always makes sure she is well dressed and that she is presentable to whomever she encounters, and I think a bit of that is due to the times, as in the 1960s in a male-dominated world in which marginalized groups were still openly discriminated against. Historically disenfranchised people oftentimes made themselves appear clean-cut and put together in order to garner more respect from the majority of the population. 

I also love how each and every outfit is something that could just as easily be something that a personal stylist for Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue would outfit their customers in. Therefore, after thoroughly watching the show, I can also predict that “Queen’s Gambit” might also begin to influence the fashion world and consequently, influence the rest of the world. Personally, as someone who loves 1960s fashion, I can’t wait to see the trends to come from such influence and I also hope that clothiers like Thom Browne, Dries Van Noten and Prada take note. 

All in all, Queen’s gambit is a fantastic show, with great themes that keep you glued to your seat. With its compelling storyline, great character growth, memorable characters, and amazing performances from people like Anya Taylor-Joy, “Queen’s Gambit” is an overall remarkable show.

Therefore, I also highly advise people to pay attention to every detail, because nothing is wasted. 

Even if a piece of the story seems drab at times, it always comes back sooner or later on, and it adds yet another piece of layering to an already stratified series. One thing is for certain, I see many awards going to the series in the near future.