Female-led drama The Queen’s Gambit, set in the 1960s chess world, has become Netflix’s most popular limited scripted series ever.
In a statement, Netflix shared that “some 62 million households watched the show in its first 28 days”. The seven-episode series is ranked in the top 10 most watched on Netflix in 92 countries, including first in 63, the company added.
The Queen’s Gambit follows an orphaned female chess prodigy, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), who struggles with drug addiction as she rises to become one of the world’s best players. But there is so much more to this incredibly fast-paced series that has proven to be the best binge-watch Netflix has produced in a long time. A riveting watch it will leave you with reasons to love it and to be inspired by it for days, months after.
1. You will feel like you can do anything
The feeling of utter inspiration after watching Beth defeat world champions at chess will make you either want to order a chess set or feel like you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Why? Beth is an orphan after she survives a car crash in which her mother passes away and there is no record of her father after her mother leaves him. Her mother dies in an attempted suicide, which could’ve taken Beth’s life but she escapes unharmed.
We then follow Beth on her journey as a brilliant chess prodigy, taught by the janitor, Mr Shaibel (Bill Camp) in an orphanage and watch her become addicted to antidepressants, which were apparently legally handed out to children in the 1950s to help them become calm and easy to handle; and to chess – a board which not only relaxes her but makes it easier for her to sleep at night.
She grows up fighting her inner demons, adopted by a family in which the father leaves, and raised by a foster mother who loves her but passes away as well. And chess becomes her ultimate solace and one that she uses to reach the heights of success. To see her grow from a child who had nothing to a woman who slays chess grandmasters in Russia leaves one with the feeling that they can conquer the world – and play chess.
2. You will appreciate your closest and best friends
In the middle of the series, you see Beth becoming lost in her drug addiction, her uneasy arrogance that she can only defeat grandmasters with the help of her pills and her lack of confidence in being with the guy that she likes. What gets her through her darkest times are her friends – and what’s amazing is that her friends are actually her former rivals – the men she defeated to get to where she is. It becomes obvious near the end that she is nothing without them and you know that warm, fuzzy feeling everyone gets from a cheesy romance movie? You will get it but it will be because of the best kinds of friendships- the ones that cheer others on, even if they are getting what you wanted all along.
3. You will marvel at the setting – and the clothes
Make no mistake – the chessboard style patterns you see on most of the clothes that Beth is wearing were deliberate and there is no woman who would not be drooling over her black and white dress that she wears for the tournament in Russia. The thoughtful costume designs and the settings of the scenes make it one of the most beautiful series to watch – from the hallowed hallways where the chess finale happens – to the retro home where Beth lives with her foster mother – are all a wonder to watch. You will be transported to the 50s and the 60s in every scene, with every leather jacket and loud wallpaper, with the waves in their hair and the even by the way they walk – every character does justice to their roles and what we are left with is a true delight in seven episodes.
The Queen’s Gambit is among Netflix’s more culturally resonant programmes of recent years. Netflix, in a blog post, also shared that since the series’ debut in October, searches for chess sets on eBay are up 250 percent, and Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel that inspired the series has returned to bestseller lists. And there is zero doubt that it deserves to be where it is. A must watch for all.