Not Really a Review of The Queens Gambit (Netflix)

I don’t have distilled thoughts about the Netflix 1960s chess prodigy limited series, other than it is very enjoyable. There is a thing about it how it plays on viewers sense of risk based on circumstance and standard plot lines by having a very vulnerable character (in many ways) but where the dangers don’t play out.

It isn’t a subversion as such. Beth (the central character) ends up in an orphanage which has overtly abusive practices (drugging the kids to keep them passive) and is adopted by a couple who are in many ways unsuitable and ends up in a world full of exploitative misogyny (competitive chess in the 1960s). At no point are these things good or somehow not problems but events twist in ways that work out for Beth. Even the central theme of substance abuse works in unexpected ways.

Even the extent to which good luck work out for her aren’t used to downplay Beth’s own skill or personality but I don’t think the reverse happens either — the implication isn’t that luck plays no role.

Anyway, there are people who have written better reviews. I liked it. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Not Really a Review of The Queens Gambit (Netflix)

  1. I’ve watched about half the episodes so far — I forget the exact number.

    I didn’t like the first episode. I nearly stopped watching after that. But it picked up, and I’ve pretty much enjoyed the rest that I’ve seen. The chess champ that ends up teaching her — I forget the name, the one with the hat and the smarmy attitude — kept reminding me of David Spade.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After finishing the last episode, I told my wife, “You should watch it. You’d like it…She doesn’t get raped.”

    Which is to say, I think you’ve put your finger on what makes it so enjoyable and unusual for a show these days. The worst doesn’t happen.


  3. I really liked the first half—the second half, where it turns into a more or less conventional addiction/redemption narrative, not as much.

    What really impressed me was that it’s probably the only convincing portrayal of genius in TV or film I’ve ever seen. It’s totally believable that Beth Harmon had intellectual abilities far beyond my ken. Hollywood NEVER gets that right.


    1. I liked the second half, partly because I’d begun to trust the show more and that it wasn’t all going to end horribly for Beth.

      It also felt like she had out manouvered misogyny to the extent that her chess powers had turned a whole bunch of men into people who could put their egos aside to be supportive of somebody because her success was worth it in itself. Yes, that’s a fantasy but I like fantasy as a genre 🙂


  4. It was enjoyable, great period sets, soundtrack and all, but its depiction of substance abuse is severly lacking, and in the end it is just feel good fairytale where everything magically works out for the heroine. I don’t get why people see this as deep or important tv.

    Liked by 1 person

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