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The Queen’s Gambit Review

*Potential Spoiler Alert*
Fran Hughes
“chess” by Fran Hughes is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was originally written by Walter Tevis in 1983 and was not widely popular until the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” came out. Tevis wrote this book as a tribute to highlight the inner workings of genius women, the hardships that every woman went through, and the harsh response to a girl in a commonly masculine hobby. The rights to the original story were purchased by Allan Scott in 1992. Production started in 2008 with Scott Frank and Heath Ledger; when Heath Ledger passed away, it paused production for the next decade. It was officially released on Netflix on October 23, 2020, by Scott Frank and Allan Scott. “The Queen’s Gambit” is critically acclaimed, earning eleven primetime awards, including an outstanding limited anthology award. Chess prodigy and world champion Susan Bolgar praises “The Queen’s Gambit” for depicting chess as “something emotional and exciting.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is about an 18-year-old chess prodigy, Elizabeth (Beth) Harmon, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, in the mid-1950s-1960s. At eight years old, she was orphaned when her mother died in a car accident. At the orphanage, she got addicted to anxiety medication called Xanzolam. Throughout the show, the viewers follow her struggle with drug and alcohol abuse while dealing with the societal pressures of being a woman who plays chess.

The show inspires young women to pursue dreams and hopes that they might not have seen possible because it is in a male-dominated industry. Beth gets shut out by other girls because she does not have the same interests as them. The boys and men she plays against taunt her during and after a match because she is a girl playing chess. Even though she goes through constant ridicule, she keeps working hard at her sport and tries not to pay them any mind. According to Erica Stewart, “What is important to me are relatable characters with an emphasis on strong independent women.” Usually, shows or movies adapted from a book are less loved than the original. Melissa Stewart, who has read the book, says, “Most people say the book is better than the movie, but this movie is on par with the book. Yes, there are times in the book where a situation goes into more detail, and you have a stronger backstory, but the movie is well written, well acted, and well directed, and those lovers of the book will love this depiction.”

The series became Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries, making it the top program for Netflix in 63 countries. Aidan Schnitzler said he got into the show because “…many people were talking about it, and my cousin introduced it to me.” What helped it gain its high popularity rating is that it was released in 2020, when most of the world was in lockdown. Due to the lockdown, people had more time to sit down and watch shows they might not have been able to watch or were interested in watching before the pandemic.

“The Queen’s Gambit” is an inspirational and emotional storyline that shows that any woman can achieve great success no matter her background, whether she is battling addiction or who she is. If you have already watched “The Queen’s Gambit,” other shows that are book adaptations are “Peaky Blinders,” “The Game of Thrones,” and “Anne with an ‘E’” If you like shows that have a strong female protagonist, that deals with societal issues and discrimination for being a single mother you should watch, “Maid.”


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Paige Agnew, Student Writer
Paige Agnew, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include running, dancing, hiking, link crew, and hanging out with friends and family. Paige plans to attend Arcadia Univerity to study physical therapy.

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