By Gabriela Aeberhard.
A show as good as THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT does not air every day. Not only is the story compelling, but the characters are captivating. There are so many good things to say about this show that I think it’s best to go point by point:
1) THE CHARACTERS: Beth Harmon is one of those characters we are not likely to forget very soon. Like her «almost» namesake Lisbeth Salander, she shows a degree of resilience, resourcefulness, courage, gumption and downright intelligence that would make anyone fall in love with her. Other characters, such as Benny, Harry, Townes, Beth’s adoptive mother, Mr. Shaibel, or Jolene, are also memorable and feel REAL, they are completely believable and three-dimensional. Beth herself grows and changes, she has a character ARC, which is often missing in so many fictional characters.
2) THE TOPIC: The game of chess, to the unenlightened, is an enigma. Too brainy and difficult to be taken lightly, in this film it’s handled like an Olympic sport, and the players are seen as athletes, people to be revered. This show has done a lot to promote the game, and to raise its status among young people. In the current digital era, it’s nice to be reminded that the most interesting and complex game is 100% analog and 1500 years old.
3) THE STORY/PLOT/THEME: This is not just a show about competition and wanting to be the best, although of course it’s about that as well. This is a coming-of-age story, a story about discovering oneself, about overcoming difficulties, perseverance, friendship, etc. There are many different aspects of the story which raise interesting questions: Who were Beth’s mother and father and why did they turn out the way they did? Why was Beth adopted? What’s more important, nature or nurture, when it comes to talent? What effect did drugs have on Beth’s success? What did fashion mean to her? Why did she sleep (or not) with certain characters?
4) THE MESSAGE: If there’s one message THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT leaves you with, it’s about the importance of friendship. I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending but that is what I was left with at the end. We all want the main character to triumph, and receive recognition, but it’s often lonely at the top. The ending of this show is not really an ending, but a new beginning.
5) THE ACTORS: Anya Taylor-Joy has all the makings of a star. Her looks are striking enough to make you look twice, and special enough not to be mistaken for anyone else. She is perfectly bilingual in English and Spanish, having lived in Argentina for 6 years before settling down in the UK. She says she fell in love with the character instantly, and I’m not surprised. But many other actors are also memorable: her adoptive mom, her best friends, the other chess prodigies, even her High School nemesis!
6) THE HYPE: Yes, it’s now being hailed as one of the MOST WATCHED Netflix shows ever. That makes many people jump on the bandwagon, while others are turned off by that. But the reason this show is so popular is that it’s truly good. Also, it has been filmed with such care, such attention to detail in every sense, that it’s a feast for the eyes.
7) FINALLY, THE VERDICT: If you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for? If you have, why not watch it again?