Review: Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ includes depth, emotion

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Courtesy of Netflix

“The Queen’s Gambit” is about chess also introduces “important real-world issues.”

Netflix’s new original, “The Queen’s Gambit,” is about orphan Elizabeth Harmon, a chess savant, who rises to success. “The Queen’s Gambit” is an anxiety inducing and emotional TV series with its first season being seven episodes long. 

“The Queen’s Gambit” mostly takes place in the 60s, so the setting also adds some exciting features to the show, such as the old cars that they drive, the tension the U.S. has with Russia, and the lack of gender equality. 

Although “The Queen’s Gambit” is a show about chess, anyone who has ever strived to excel in something they are passionate about will appreciate this show. The plot is thick, the characters are well thought out and the character development is just outstanding. Throughout the first half of the season, we see Harmon as a young child, who after a tragic accident has become an orphan. The creators of “The Queen’s Gambit” included influential, small characters that largely impacted Harmon’s character. Early in the season, the viewers get to know the orphanage’s janitor, who teaches Harmon what chess is and how to play it. The janitor is a defining character in the show, even with limited screen time. 

“The Queen’s Gambit,” even with being mainly about the chess world, introduces important real-world issues, such as gender equality, racial discrimination and the rough life of an orphan. The emotions produced by watching this show are second to none. The background instrumentals that are created for each different significant moment add anxiety, stress, sadness and joy.

“The Queen’s Gambit” also sheds light on drug and alcohol addiction. Harmon battles with addiction from a young age, and it impacts her personal and professional life years later. If you watch the season a second time through, you will notice all of the foreshadowing that you definitely would have missed the first time. Harmon’s drug addiction began from when she was in the orphanage, and there are moments when her childhood friend, Jolene, would tell her not to take them so often, which hinted to scenes later in the season.

At the age of 15, Harmon gets adopted by Allston and Alma Wheatley. When the Wheatley’s take Harmon home for the first time, Harmon is mesmerized by the house and her room. At first, Harmon’s new home life looks to be rather quaint and interesting, but one day Allston leaves with no intention of coming back. With Allston gone, Harmon and Alma begin to have a non-traditional mother-daughter relationship. The pair travels across the country as business partners for chess tournaments and sightseeing. 

At times, “The Queen’s Gambit” is exciting, nerve racking and hopeful, but at other times it’s depressing and frightening. The writers of “The Queen’s Gambit” did a good job toying with the viewer’s emotions. This show will make you feel things that you can’t describe.

Overall, the issues brought up, the emotion one feels, and the depth, are only some of the many reasons “The Queen’s Gambit” is a great show.

Rating: A-