The last decade was perceived as a ‘golden age’ of TV shows – and that is for a reason. Just at the time when Hollywood movies started losing breath in the early 2010s, some great TV series started to draw attention. ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Wire’, ‘House of Cards’, and of course ‘Game of Thrones’ were the true gems that not only started to change the industry but also our habits of consuming the video contents.
Still, rarely there was a similar hype as with the new ‘Netflix’ book-based diamond – ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. At first glance, it’s not an easy sell: a story about Beth Harmon, a girl from Kentucky in the 50’s and 60’s who is obsessed with chess – an actual chess prodigy. And then again, the viewers literally went mad about this series. So what’s the catch?
Here are some reasons for this true obsession.
1. The feel of escapism
People watch the show with nostalgia seeing all those hotels and airports as scenes from some previous life. The situation with the pandemic in 2020 decreased the traveling enthusiasm, so watching all those nice hotel rooms on the screen must be more than appealing for many.
Yet, the feeling of escapism is something that most of us need so desperately in a pandemic world. The predictable but the only possible ending in which Beth wins both – the chess game and her personal demons – is a type of victory that we need now more than ever.
2. Smartness is actually cherished
The series seems to be happening in some other world – so much different than ours. Science and math are well-admired, intellect is charming and people are behaving nobbly and treat each other with respect. Yes, it’s possible. Even when Beth’s opponents lose and when they’re angry, they still shake hands in the end and exchange a few kind words.
Again, in this time of false idols, fake news, and upside-down values, the different world in which people lived only a few decades ago seems so refreshing and inspiring.
3. Fighting with demons
Yes, Beth is a brilliant young woman in every sense of the word – smart, intelligent, and since early childhood driven to win. Yet, she has her own inner struggles as any of us have, wrestling with her own demons and addictions – pills and alcohol. Throughout the series, she seems as if she’ll just step over the edge, but she never does. In fact, she acts in a way that isn’t predictable or sleazy, but refreshing.
The lack of serious consequence is also something that people quickly get used to, which is actually so relieving. That’s why she’s so adored – the sense that everything will turn out fine despite all her appealing demons. Whatever happens, she’ll never lose her other shoe.
4. The complete lack of stereotypes
We can easily conclude that Beth’s problems and demons rose from the depths of her deranged childhood. She was raised in an orphanage discovering chess in its basement. However, she soon discovers that the chess stage is heavily dominated by men, but she continues to fight in a charming and delicate way – and never gives up. She’s neither weak nor nice which is something that already transcends most gender stereotypes.
Another brilliant moment in the show is Beth’s relationship with her mother Alma that also surpasses each and every mother-daughter stereotype. Beth was adopted by Alma when she was still a teenager. Soon Alma becomes an alcoholic, and when she discovers her daughter’s chess talent and realizes she can financially benefit from it, it would be easy to think that she’ll just go for it without thinking. But she doesn’t – and that’s where the series excels, although Beth’s and Alma’s ways separate anyway.
5. Passion rules the game
If we have to put it to only one word, then we can say that ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is all about passion. The main character doesn’t only play chess – she lives chess, she dreams it, eats it, inhales it and even hallucinates it. Sure, she’s well-awarded for that – she goes to Vegas and Paris to play, and her devotion brings her financial stability and fame.
After watching the show, you can easily tell yourselves: ‘Hm, there must have been a purpose for me as well’. That’s optimistic, that’s encouraging, and that’s needed so badly nowadays. Who knows, maybe you still haven’t discovered your passion. For those who still haven’t found all the magic of this beautiful game, a single click here will discover a whole new world of its secrets.
6. The fascinating look and fashion
From an opening scene until the series finale, this is a parade of good-old fashion, vintage clothes and photos. Simply, this is something that hasn’t been seen since the brilliance of ‘Mad Men’. Hairstyles, cool carves, glasses, and coats are the real feast for everyone’s eyes that’ll summon the feel of true nostalgia.
Whether Beth is in her mother’s delightful living room or an ancient-looking but stylish hotel in Moscow or Paris, every single detail is so pleasant and delicious. Yes, fashion is a hugely important factor why so many people simply adore the ‘Gambit’. But hey, who doesn’t like the overall 60s feeling?
7. Fantastic sense for pacing
How many times has each of us been in a situation when we impatiently binge a TV show only to find out that the scenes are too predictable or that it inevitably becomes boring at one point. Well, that is not the case with the ‘Queen’s Gambit’!
The series director deserves all the credits for flawlessly leading the show in almost every second of it. He perfectly guessed when to put focus and tension on a chess game and when to cut it, preventing it from slipping into boredom. We can say without hesitation that ‘The Gambit’ is perfectly calibrated, which is definitely one of the top reasons why spectators are thrilled with it.
When ‘Mad Men’ finished, many of us probably thought that nothing similar will ever be produced soon. Fortunately, we were wrong. ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is a TV show that we expected and needed so badly. People adore it and they have every reason for that: it’s stylish, smart, exciting, classy. And yes, it rediscovered and celebrates chess, a mastermind game. Hats off!