The Queen’s Gambit: An Addictive and Astounding Netflix Original

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Ainsley Hayes, Staff Writer

I’ll paint the picture: There I was, browsing through Netflix on winter break for the fifth day in a row, eager to watch absolutely anything other than another Christmas movie when I stumbled upon “The Queen’s Gambit” for the first time. I cannot lie and say the title and cover art alone drew me in, as I have never been interested in the game of chess or knew anything about it for that matter; however, I found myself intrigued by its popularity on the streaming service and decided to give the first episode a try.

The first sign of a good show, in my opinion, is the initial appeal. If I’m not completely hooked by the end of the first episode, odds are I won’t be continuing on to watch a second. This is the reason why I was able to binge-watch my way through the 7-episode limited series within three days–I genuinely couldn’t stop watching. And this wouldn’t have been the case if it wasn’t for the initial impression the first episode had on me.

Being described as a “must-watch” by the New Yorker, “The Queen’s Gambit,” starring Anya Taylor-Joy, has reached new heights for Netflix. The basis of the show is set around Joy’s character, Beth Harmon, and the story of her journey toward becoming the greatest chess player in the world–all while battling addiction. Since its launch in October of 2020, the coming-of-age drama set during the Cold War era has accomplished many notable achievements never before experienced by a show of its kind. Setting the record as the most-streamed scripted limited series of all time on Netflix, “The Queen’s Gambit” reached more than 62 million households worldwide in its first 28 days on the platform. Its global popularity has been unheard of, reaching the number one spot in 63 countries worldwide in its first month on Netflix. The hit show has also earned an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, receiving approval from critics and audiences alike. The hype around the show has even led to a significantly higher amount of interest in next year’s World Chess Championship, according to the International Chess Federation. 

I quite honestly have nothing but good things to say about “The Queen’s Gambit.” First off, the plotline of the show, based on the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, is so well-executed and concise. Covering almost 20 years of Harmon’s lifetime in only seven episodes, the show’s well-paced yet elaborate storyline is one of the most impressive aspects. It takes directional excellence to convey a story centered around something that is generally perceived as boring as chess in such a compelling way, which is exactly what the limited series did. Not only does the drama embody realistic struggles so well without being hyperbolic, but it is also extremely empowering to see a young girl take center stage so passionately in a male-dominated game while also battling internal struggles. Its unpredictability makes binge-watching the show extremely easy to do, as it was quite literally impossible for me to stop watching once I began. The cinematography throughout the series is absolutely stunning, which is an additional factor as to why the show is so appealing to viewers. 

Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback it received, Netflix has yet to renew the show for a second season. Given that the show has been deemed a “limited series” by the company, unfortunately, a renewal seems highly unlikely as of now. Even though it upsets me to hear we shouldn’t be expecting a second season to the show, the conclusion of the show gave the viewers a sense of closure and tied up the plot without any loose ends. When it comes to Netflix originals, it doesn’t get much better than “The Queen’s Gambit”