Netflix’s latest underdog


The Queen’s Gambit has remained on Netflix’s top ten trending list since its premiere almost two months ago.

Most people wouldn’t consider chess as the most compelling subject for a series with a total runtime exceeding six hours.

Millions of others disagree.

The Queen’s Gambit, a chess-centric series released on Netflix in October, set records for the streaming service. According to Netflix, 62 million households watched the show within its first 28 days of being released, establishing it as the service’s most popular scripted limited series yet.

The series takes place in the 1960s and centers around chess prodigy Beth Harmon from the time she discovers chess as an 8-year-old orphan to her twenties as an international champion. She deals with family issues, substance abuse, and flings with dreamy chess opponents all while working towards her goal of winning a world championship in the Soviet Union against the reigning Russian champion.

Undoubtedly the most captivating part of The Queen’s Gambit is its protagonist. Each episode shows the complicated and morally ambiguous Beth at a different part of her life. While she’s given new obstacles to overcome at each point in time, she always has an overarching but impossible desire for perfection, and the show explores how pursuing that goal takes a toll on her.

On the other hand, the biggest criticism of the series is that while it provides detailed development of Beth as a character, the supporting characters lack the same depth in their storylines. The plot is set up to open different stories for the supporting cast, but never follows through with them, leaving watchers with unfinished ideas of the characters that aid Beth’s characterization.

Despite this, The Queen’s Gambit remains a strong series that appeals to a wide audience. From iconic ‘60s fashion to dramatic flashbacks, this show contains something for everyone. Even if you don’t think you like chess, it may be in your best interest to join the other 62 million households and see if the series lives up to its expectations.

★★★★★ (5/5 stars)